Woman’s death at bus station ruled “accidental”

Bedford Bus Station under construction

Bedford Bus Station under construction

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The death of a woman who died instantly under the wheels of a lorry has been ruled an accident.

Nicola Berridge was run over at Bedford Bus Station on February 13, last year, while the site was being redeveloped.

The 53-year-old had just got off a bus from her home town of Biggleswade when she was killed by a grab-truck delivering sand.

Ampthill Coroner’s Court heard a post mortem examination revealed she died of multiple injuries, including head fractures, just before 8am.

The accident occurred when Miss Berridge walked between two parked buses on the Bedford Borough Council-controlled site, across a zebra crossing.

CCTV evidence showed she had spoken with a fellow passenger before passing between the buses parked end-to-end.

Grab-lorry driver Mr Llaveshi said he had pulled up to the right of the rear bus to wait for a banksman to supervise his movements.

However he decided to move his truck forward to allow the bus to move.

Mr Llaveshi told the court he hadn’t seen anyone near his truck, and was in first gear moving slowly when he felt like he had driven over a bump.

Construction site supervisor Ron Brodie was in his parked car at the bus drop-off point, waiting for the truck to act as banksman.

He said when it pulled up behind him, he got out and saw something on the road behind it. “I thought it was a bag of rubbish,” he said, “but it wasn’t.”

Bedfordshire and Luton Senior Coroner Tom Osborne heard how the council and its primary contractor, Britannia, had drawn up a system of traffic management at the start of the demolition of the old station building and the construction of the new one, a project due to be completed by the end of 2014.

As the refurbishment project overran into early 2015, the council contracted DJT Surfacing Ltd to carry out paving work around the new building, but the traffic rules were not applied to their vehicles.

Mr Osborne concluded Miss Berridge died as the result of an accident. He said the risk assessments carried out should have ensured vehicles were escorted on the site as “an obvious precaution”, particularly as the station remained open and busy with school children and commuters during the refurbishment.

He said: “It surprises me more formal arrangements were not in place and that this vehicle came on site and was not escorted.”