Motorist who hit pedestrian ‘would not have had time to react’ - inquest told

Inquest news.
Inquest news.

A motorist who hit a man walking along an unlit road in dark clothing ‘would not have had sufficient time to react’, an inquest has heard.

Paul Whiting, 51, of Priory Road, Fishtoft, died after he was struck by the Renault Clio driven by Spalding student teacher James Hutchinson.

Giving evidence at Boston Coroner’s Court, Mr Hutchinson described how he had left Bicker Primary School – where he had been completing a six week placement as part of his training – at 5.50pm on February 11, this year.

He told the hearing he was driving along Priory Road towards Fishtoft and saw head lights coming towards him. He said he moved his car slightly to the left to ensure there was enough space for both cars.

“All of a sudden I saw colour on my left,” he continued to tell the inquest. “I didn’t know what it was. I tried to swerve but it was too late.”

Mr Hutchinson described getting out of his car and seeing Mr Whiting’s body.

He was joined by another driver who stopped to help and the emergency services were called.

Mr Whiting was declared dead at the scene by paramedics.

The speed limit on Priory Road is 60mph, and Mr Hutchinson estimated he had been doing between 40-50mph, however, collision investigator Mark Hamilton told the court he thought that was an over-estimation.

PC Hamilton described how dark the road was and told the inquest that his investigations had led him to believe Mr Whiting was in a standing position and was on the road.

Mr Whiting’s clothes were described as black or dark and he was not wearing high visibility clothing.

PC Hamilton added: “James Hutchinson would not have had sufficient time to react to Mr Whiting.”

Statements from other drivers on the road also described having to avoid him.

A post mortem concluded Mr Whiting had died of head injuries.

Summing up, assistant coroner for South Lincolnshire.Dr Murray Spittal said: “Paul Whiting left home and was walking along Priory Road, in Fishftoft. It was dark and he was dressed in black or dark clothing. There were no street lights.

“James Hutchinson’s visibility was likely compromised by headlights coming towards him. He was driving slower than the legal limit.

“It is the opinion of Mr Hamilton that Mr Hutchinson would not have had sufficient time to move.”

On Wednesday, Mr Spittle recorded a verdict of accidental death.