Death crash driver not to blame for pensioner's death, judge rules
A lorry driver who did not see a 76-year-old man he accidentally knocked down and killed has been cleared of careless or inconsiderate driving.
Judge Simon Ward ruled after hearing the prosecution's evidence that Awat Hayas had no case to answer and ordered the Wolverhampton Crown Court jury to find the defendant not guilty of the alleged offence.
Michael Whittingham was walking with a stick outside the borders of a pedestrian crossing in a blind spot for the driver as the lights turned to green in favour of traffic, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
The victim passed so close to the front of the stationary lorry he was not visible from the driver's seat and would only have been seen if Mr Hayas was looking at a downward facing mirror in the cab when Mr Whittingham fleetingly came into view, the jury was told.
Police claimed the defendant should have spotted at least one other person who was allegedly on the Pleck Road crossing outside Walsall's Manor Hospital around 2pm on November 11 2016. Motorists must give priority to pedestrians using a crossing when the lights turn green for traffic.
The defendant insisted he had not seen Mr Whittingham, or anybody else, and maintained the crossing was clear when his truck started to slowly move forward.
Ms Caroline Andrews, whose car was at the front of a queue of traffic waiting at the crossing in the opposite direction to the lorry, told the jury: "I noticed the gentleman while preparing to start as the lights changed. He came out of nowhere and had started to cross. He was an arm's length from the truck by the front wheel on the driver's side.
"He was walking slowly with a stick. The truck started to move forward a little and the gentleman got knocked off his feet onto the floor. He was lying across the road under the wheel and was getting crushed as the truck moved forward."
Mr Hayas, from Luxor Road, Leeds, realised something was wrong and stopped after a person frantically waved at him but Mr Whittingham had been fatally injured and was certified dead.
Mr Keith Goodwin, who had just crossed the road, said: "I got on the crossing while it was still bleeping, indicating it was safe to cross. It must have stopped as soon as I stepped on it and I just focussed on getting to the other side safely.
"After I reached the pavement I heard a commotion behind me and turned to see an elderly gentleman had been pushed to the ground by a lorry."
Pc Darren MacDonald, a Collision Investigation Officer, confirmed the lights were green for traffic when tragedy struck and agreed Mr Whittingham may have been in a blind spot for the truck driver, who also had the sun in his eyes.
The officer maintained CCTV showed at least one other person was on the crossing, meaning pedestrians still had to be given priority by motorists when the accident occured.