A MOMENTARY lapse in concentration from Caitlin Hunt led to her crossing a road without looking and being struck by a bus which killed her instantly, an inquest heard yesterday.
In March, the nine-year-old Rod-bourne Cheney Primary School pupil was on a pedal scooter when she pulled out in front of the vehicle on Moredon Road near the Blair Parade shops.
Although the speeds were relatively low, the impact cracked the windscreen of the bus and caused her to be dragged underneath.
The coroner ruled that no blame could be apportioned to the bus driver who was travelling within the speed limit.
Several of Caitlin’s family members, including her father, were present at the hearing which was held at Salisbury Coroner’s Court.
In his summary, assistant coroner David Coward said: “It is my finding that Caitlin died of multiple traumatic crush injuries after being struck by a bus.”
Several statements were heard from witnesses who described how attempts were made to revive Caitlin at the scene but having been struck by the bus and then dragged underneath, she was killed instantly.
Aaron Wright, who was working at Fahed’s Indian Takeaway, said on the evening of the incident he heard a screech of brakes and turned around to see a child’s arm underneath the bus.
He ran over with a colleague who attempted CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation until the emergency services arrived.
Police used CCTV from the bus and nearby shops to show that Caitlin, who was with her older brother and a friend, failed to slow down and crossed the road while looking in another direction.
The bus, belonging to Thames-down Transport, was travelling well below the speed limit at the time but the driver had no time to stop and could do nothing to avoid hitting the girl.
PC James Trafford, of the Wilt-shire Police serious collision investigation team, conducted the investigation into the crash and presented his evidence to the inquiry.
He said: “The bus was travelling at about 14 to 15mph in a 20mph zone in dry and clear conditions.
“The children came down from Church Walk North. While two of them stopped, Caitlin carried on into the road, although all of them were looking away from the road.
“It does not appear she was out of control of the scooter or forced onto the road.
“She struck the bus about half a second after leaving the pavement.
“The driver applied the brakes and veered away, which given the vehicle was all he could do.”
During the inquest questions were also asked about the road layout, as the section where Caitlin died was raised to level with the pavement, possibly leading to confusion over who had right of way.
The police said no permanent action could be taken to avoid another similar accident and the road layout was nationally recognised as a traffic calming measure, although the coroner made no mention of it in his verdict.
Caitlin’s mother Claire Hunt was not present at the hearing as she is pregnant but she had previously thanked all those who tried to help immediately after the tragedy.
She said: “We want to say a big thank you to everyone who tried to help on the day. Several people rushed over to try and save her and we are very grateful for that.”
Following the incident, floral tributes were left at the scene as well as cards of condolence.
Along with the Moredon Speed-watch group, the family set up a petition calling on the council to change the raised road and make it clear who has the right of way.
So far there are more than 300 signatures and the organisers are gathering the final form before they present them to the council.