Bradford coroner is to raise hopper bus safety after Ilkley woman's death

Coroner

Coroner

First published in News by

A coroner is to make a report to the Government vehicle standards agency after hearing how a 90-year-old woman suffered fatal injuries when she was thrown from her seat on a bus.

Age UK charity shop volunteer, Muriel Dawson, of Queens Road, Ilkley, was thrown into a panel at the front of the minibus and suffered fractured vertebrae when the bus driver performed an emergency stop.

An inquest at Bradford Coroner’s Court yesterday heard there was no barrier or vertical pole in front of the seat where Mrs Dawson was sitting, and no seatbelts.

But coroner Tim Ratcliffe accepted operator Harrogate Coach Travel had bought an officially-approved bus type and maintained it to the correct legal standard.

Mr Ratcliffe said he would make a report to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency citing safety concerns discussed with the bus company and a police investigator at the hearing.

The incident happened on board the 961 ‘hopper bus’ service on Beverley Rise, Ilkley, on November 4 last year.

Bus driver Tom Moody braked after spotting the front of a Renault Laguna, driven by Hermes courier service driver Ellen Renaud, emerge from a driveway.

The vehicles did not collide, but several passengers were thrown from their seats by the force of the emergency stop and suffered minor injuries.

Among them was Mrs Dawson’s friend of about 30 years, Lillian Smith.

Mrs Renaud called 999 and gave cardiopulmonary resuscitation to Mrs Dawson, under instruction from Yorkshire Ambulance Service, until paramedics arrived.

A post mortem revealed Mrs Dawson had osteoporosis, and the cause of death was the fracture of lumbar vertebrae.

The bus was thought to have been going at about 20mph.

The layout of the Optare 25 to 28-seater minibus was discussed at the inquest. Harrogate Coach Travel owner Craig Temple said he had not previously heard of passengers being thrown from the exposed seat towards the front of the bus.

But he told the inquest when he raised the issue with Sherburn-in-Elmet based bus manufacturer Optare, an employee of the company commented: “Oh no, not this again.”

Bus driver, Tim Moody, later heard from another driver about a passenger being injured in a similar incident.

Mr Ratcliffe gave a narrative conclusion.

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Dawson’s son, John, said he wanted to pursue the issue of passenger safety further.

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