Tears from witnesses at tragic fatal accident inquest

Irene Ditcher
Irene Ditcher

WITNESSES have described the final moments of a pensioner killed in an horrific road crash who had her purse robbed as she lay dying.

Bolton Coroner’s Court heard Irene Ditcher died from crushing as well as multiple, serious injuries to her abdomen and legs after she was struck by a tipper wagon on Prescott Street.

The inquest was told Miss Ditcher did not stop walking or look around before stepping into the road and only noticed the Renault truck at the very last minute as it came towards her.

Witnesses choked back tears as they remembered the appalling moments before the collision, with pedestrian Glenys Dixon saying Miss Ditcher appeared to shudder and hesitate in the road as the wagon came towards her.

The incident on February 4 achieved widespread notoriety as someone stole Miss Ditcher’s purse as she lay on the ground, with both police and residents expressing their disgust. There were also reports that another ghoulish onlooker filmed her final moments on their camera phone.

The theft remains unsolved, with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) recently issuing a fresh appeal for witnesses or anyone with information about the theft to come forward.

The inquest heard Miss Ditcher was in collision with the lorry near its rear axles, with the shopping trolley she was pushing being crushed as it went underneath the tipper truck.

GMP investigations concluded Miss Ditcher would have been in driver David Roberts’s blind spot as she stepped off the kerb and took a couple of paces across Prescott Street.

Officers also investigated a possible braking defect on the vehicle but decided this did not contribute to the incident due to the slow speed Mr Roberts was travelling as he took the tight turn.

Tragically, the court heard Mr Roberts noticed Miss Ditcher stop walking to look at him as he waited at the junction of Abbey Street and Leigh Road, with GMP suggesting that if she had carried on walking at the speed she was previously going she would have cleared Prescott Street before the Renault came around the corner.

Motorist Simon Bamford and his wife Sandra, who was a passenger, gave emotional accounts of their view of the incident from their car, which was following the truck.

Mr Bamford told the court: “The tipper truck started to turn left into Prescott Street and I just saw an elderly lady walking down and she just didn’t stop.

“She just kept on walking, she walked into the side of the vehicle.

“I don’t think she was aware of the wagon turning across in front of her at any stage.”

Mrs Bamford said: “I saw the old lady across the road because she looked like someone I know. She had her hood up and was pushing a trolley. I first saw her when the tipper truck pulled out.

“There’s a row of shops straight ahead and I noticed her walking past the shops towards Prescott Street. I saw the truck turn to go into Prescott Street and I just screamed to my husband; ‘I don’t think she’s going to stop’.

“She slowed down for the kerb for the trolley to go down but she didn’t stop.”

A post-mortem investigation found Miss Ditcher’s injuries were not possible to survive and she died from shock caused by sudden, massive blood loss.

Assistant coroner Simon Jones recorded a road traffic collision as his conclusion.

Mr Jones said: “Although she may have slowed to allow the trolley to come down the kerb she did not stop at any stage.

“She crossed Prescott Street into the path of a Renault tipper wagon which collided with her, causing her to sustain fatal injuries at the scene.

“My condolences to the family. There isn’t anything I can say that will be any comfort, but I do offer my sympathy to you all on the death of your aunt.”