David Pilcher

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An independent grandfather from Eastbourne died after he toppled down steps on his mobility scooter, an inquest has heard.

David Pilcher, of Grange Road, was heading to Gildredge Park when he was seen to tumble down the concrete steps at the entrance opposite Moatcroft Road in Old Town.

He was taken to hospital but died in the DGH four days later.

Mr Pilcher, who had poor eyesight and had suffered a small stroke in 2012, had been out shopping.

An inquest into the 82-year-old’s death took place at Eastbourne Magistrates Court last Thursday and heard evidence from Kathryn Tuppen who witnessed the incident back on the afternoon of June 6 this year.

The Seaford resident had been due to meet a friend and was by the entrance of the mews in her car when she saw Mr Pilcher – who was at the top of the steps and ramp near the entrance to the park – tumble. She told the inquest, “Something in my head thought it [the scooter] wasn’t positioned right and as I looked back at him, his positioning at the top of the steps was not quite right.

“I saw him and the scooter come down the stairs.”

Ms Tuppen rushed over to him and noticed blood coming from the back of his head. She added, “I told the people in Pizza Stop to call an ambulance. He was barely conscious.”

Her shouts alerted staff at nearby Everycare who came out to help and recognised Mr Pilcher.

One of the nurses looked after him and the inquest heard how he had regained some consciousness before he was taken to hospital in an ambulance.

But the keen sports fan, who enjoyed playing snooker with friends and was described as his family as someone who ‘liked to be in charge of day to day things’ such as buying the odd bit of shopping, died on June 10.

The inquest also heard from PC Douglas Parks. He said he and a colleague had investigated the incident and a reconstruction had been carried out. He said the turning to get into the doorway was quite tight, adding, “If you don’t know how to use a mobility scooter or have a sight defect you have to take care.”

He said the machine had been on a fast setting, adding, “If you are riding the machine and release the lever, because of the nature of the machine it takes off automatically. The machine will stop and you change the setting and then pull back to make it go. In doing that there’s ‘free play’.”

He explained this meant there was a period of time where the machine would then move another 12 - 18 inches.

He told the inquest, “The hypothesis is that whatever happened he’s got it at a wrong kind of angle and to get in the doorway.

“He’s put it in reverse lock and it’s in fast setting and he’s pressed the left lever to go backwards.”

Giving a conclusion of a road traffic accident, coroner Alan Craze, told the family, “It’s an awful tragedy and it’s a been a huge shock for you.

“The facts are quite clear and I totally agree with the reconstruction the police officers have done.”