Girl’s death was ‘tragic accident’
The death of a 15-year-old girl who lost her life days after being struck by a car on Wessington Way has been ruled a tragic accident, an inquest heard.
Alisha Webster was airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary after she was hit by a car while crossing the A1290 near the Northern Spire bridge on February 19, 2020.
An inquest heard Alisha, who was living in Sunderland, died as a result of a head injury just under a week later on Tuesday, February 25.
Evidence heard at the inquest, which was held at Newcastle Civic Centre on January 14, indicates that Alisha crossed the first two sections of the road – in the direction of the Northern Spire to the Sainsbury’s supermarket – while green pedestrian lights showed.
The 15-year-old appeared to be looking down at her mobile phone and didn’t check for oncoming traffic before crossing the final part of the busy dual carriageway.
It was here that she was tragically struck by a car – a Honda Jazz – which was believed to be travelling at around 45mph.
The driver said he attempted to break and swerve but was unable to avoid the collision – which is supported by evidence found during the police investigation.
Speaking at the inquest, PC John Featherstone, a forensic collision investigator, said: “Miss Webster is seen on her approach to be holding a mobile phone and she is regularly looking down at it.”
Witnesses statements say Alisha appeared to glance the wrong way for approaching traffic while CCTV footage shows she ‘doesn’t appear to look to her left’ – the direction of oncoming vehicles.
Pedestrian signals were also on red when Alisha stepped into the road, PC Featherstone said.
An accident reconstruction found that Alisha had been on the carriageway for between one and 1.24 seconds at the point of impact with the car.
PC Featherstone added: “It was not physically possible for [the driver] to stop his vehicle prior to impact.”
Following a post-mortem, home office pathologist Dr Peter Nigel Cooper said the cause of death was a blunt head injury.
Senior coroner, Karen Dilks said: “The area has been relatively recently redeveloped and it is a busy dual carriageway with quite a complicated crossing system.
"It is clear from the evidence, particularly the CCTV evidence that has been reviewed, that Alisha crossed the crossing. She didn’t activate the crossing herself but crossed the first two sections on green pedestrian traffic signals.
"She crossed the third section when the indication was that it was not safe (red pedestrian lights). She stepped into the path of a motor vehicle that was travelling on the carriageway."
A toxicology report from a blood sample taken when she arrived at hospital found a small level of alcohol 58mg per 100ml of blood – the legal driving limiting is 80mg per 100ml of blood.
Ms Dilks said she was satisfied that there was no evidence to suggest Alisha appeared intoxicated.
She added: “There is evidence that Alisha may have been distracted by her mobile telephone – we can never be sure what impact that had upon her.”
The coroner made a ruling of accidental death.