Fatal accident may have been caused by pedestrian’s health problems, inquest told

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Reduced hearing and vision may have caused a woman to step in front of an oncoming motorbike, an inquest heard.

Eileen Garas, 90, of Hampers Lane, Storrington, was fatally injured in a road accident on the A283 Storrington Road on December 19 last year.

Coroner’s officer John Halloran told an inquest in Horsham yesterday (June 13) that Mrs Garas was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, where she died later that day.

The inquest heard that she had been suffering from hearing loss, and had been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, a condition which affects a person’s ability to see objects directly in their line of sight.

Despite this, Mrs Garas was very mobile for her age. On the day she died she had been on her way to catch a bus, which she did two or three times a week.

Giving evidence, motorcyclist Ian Scott said he had been up to Bury Hill that morning, and was heading home through Storrington around 10.20am.

He described seeing Mrs Garas step off the pavement, heading for the pedestrian refuge in the middle of the road.

He said he had no room to steer around her, and barely any time to brake.

“I’ve gone over it many times, and I’m convinced that there was nothing I could do,” said Mr Scott.

“The only thing I can say to [her son] Mr Garas is that I’m very sorry that he lost his mother - I send him my condolences.”

The inquest heard evidence from two other drivers, who supported Mr Scott’s account.

One said he had seen Mrs Garas stepping off the kerb ‘directly into the path of a motorcyclist’.

Forensic collision investigator PC Iain Lombard said that, based on tyre marks at the scene, Mr Scott appeared to have been travelling within the 50mph speed limit.

He said there was no sign of any problem with the bike, and no trace of alcohol or illegal drugs in Mr Scott’s system.

West Sussex Deputy Coroner Chris Wilkinson recorded that Mrs Garas had died as a result of a road traffic accident.

“For reasons which we’ve not been able not been able to fully establish, she stepped out into the carriageway when it wasn’t safe for her to do so.”

He added that it was ‘entirely possible’ that hearing and vision problems had either prevented her from noticing the motorbike, or had caused her to misjudge its speed and distance.

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