Bus driver didn't see teen, inquest told

A BUS driver has told an inquest that he did not see a 13-year-old cyclist who was crushed under his vehicle as he pulled away from a pedestrian crossing.

Elliot Furniss

A BUS driver has told an inquest that he did not see a 13-year-old cyclist who was crushed under his vehicle as he pulled away from a pedestrian crossing.

An inquest into the death of Alexander Ramsdale-Launder was held in Chelmsford yesterday and Philip Key said that when he looked to his left and right before releasing his break, the youngster was nowhere to be seen.

The accident took place on Layer Road in Colchester near Kings Ford Junior School at about 8.35am on November 23 last year.

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Alexander, a pupil at the Stanway School, lived close by and was riding toward the zebra crossing as the bus prepared to drive on after stopping for pedestrians.

The inquest heard he seemingly realised he would not make it safely across and applied an emergency stop, flipping over the handlebars and ending up underneath the single-decker bus.

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He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Several members of Alexander's family attended the inquest at new Bridge House to hear a verdict of accidental death recorded.

They repeatedly questioned Mr Key about whether he had seen Alexander or had checked thoroughly enough before pulling away.

“He was not in my view to the left, I did not see Alexander approaching,” said Mr Key. “He was out of the range of my visibility when he approached the bus.”

Sharon Thomas, the driver of the car behind the bus, told the court that she didn't think the Mr Key could have seen the teenager before he moved off.

She said: “He (Alexander) was cycling very fast - he'd not slowed down as he approached the zebra crossing. I suddenly realised he couldn't make the crossing.

“His front wheel was still on the pavement and his back wheel was at 12 o'clock and Alexander flipped off the cycle and went under the bus.”

After the verdict, Alexander's stepfather Ian read out a statement on behalf of himself, his wife Natalie and son Harry, nine.

He said: “The outcome of the inquest today does not offer resolution for our family. Alexander was a wonderful, gifted and talented young man who embraced life.

“The opportunity to live his life and for us to share it with him has been cruelly taken away. His absence has left his family devastated and incomplete.

“He is a much loved son, brother, grandchild and friend to many and will forever be deeply missed. Life without Alexander is not the same.”

The family raised concerns that obvious blind spots for bus drivers would lead to more deaths and asked for the coroner to support their view.

Assistant Deputy Coroner for Essex Dr Chinyere Inyama said he would consider making a report on the matter under rule 43 of the coroner's rules - a report made when a coroner believes that action should be taken to prevent the recurrence of fatalities similar to that covered by an inquest.

He said: “Accidental death is the most appropriate verdict, but that does not devalue the death. I extend a real deep and genuinely held sympathy for such a tragic death of someone so young.”

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