Brighton woman died after collision with lorry near Newhaven

A 77-year-old woman from Brighton died on a road near Newhaven after colliding with a lorry last year.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 9:31 am

Theresa Wilkins, a retired carer from Saltdean, died on July 29 last year, an inquest heard.

The inquest at Eastbourne Town Hall on Thursday (March 18) heard Mrs Wilkins was out walking with her sister, Patricia Rice, on a route they were familiar with.

Mrs Rice said she met with her sister on the morning of July 29 in the centre of Newhaven before they set off on their walk.

Eastbourne Town Hall SUS-210216-141547001

The inquest heard the pair were walking on the pavement adjacent to the northbound A26 Avis Road heading back into Newhaven.

Mrs Rice said the pavement ends on the northbound side and then picks up on the southbound side of the road but there is no official crossing.

The sisters were waiting to cross at this part of the road, which has a speed limit of 40mph, when Mrs Wilkins ran across the road.

Mrs Rice said, “I don’t think she realised the lorry was coming our way. I was shocked, I couldn’t take it in.”

The lorry, driven by Gary Wood, was travelling in the southbound lane and was said to be five seconds from Mrs Wilkins when she stepped out into the road, the inquest heard.

Mr Wood said, “I saw the ladies and there was no sign they were going to do anything, then I just caught it in the corner of my eye.”

East Sussex coroner Alan Craze told Mr Wood, “You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The inquest heard that despite Mr Wood managing to stop the lorry in three seconds, the vehicle collided with Mrs Wilkins.

A number of witnesses, including an off-duty police officer who helped manage the situation, told the inquest there was nothing Mr Wood could have done differently.

Police constable Andrew Dodd confirmed Mrs Wilkins died at the scene.

Mr Craze called the incident ‘very tragic’ and ruled Mrs Wilkins’ death was due to a road traffic collision.