‘Another child will die’

Julie Duggan, Gerry Coleman and Sarah Duggan's grandmother Brenda
Julie Duggan, Gerry Coleman and Sarah Duggan's grandmother Brenda
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The mother of a teenage girl killed when she was hit by a car at a danger junction in Fleetwood has warned children to think before they step out onto the road – after witnessing a near-miss at the same spot just days ago.

Sarah Duggan, 16, was hit by a car after she emerged from Fleetwood Cricket Club with friends and bolted across busy Fleetwood Road at Broadwater, around 5pm on Monday, November 4 last year.

Sarah’s mother, Julie, said current attitudes towards the junction, in particular by schoolchildren, are a “disgrace” and urged them to use a nearby crossing instead.

The 43-year-old, who lives in Brook Street in the port, told The Gazette: “I walked up to the crossing on Monday to pick my two granddaughters up from school.

“Students from Cardinal Allen School ran straight across the road, narrowly missing cars – it was so dangerous.

“I shouted at them ‘Do you not think you’re taking the mick? You are not looking, you are just running straight across.’

“It’s just a disgrace – another kid by the end of next year is going to get killed.

“There is a pedestrian crossing and traffic lights – use them.

“Monday to Friday around 3pm is the worst time. A lollipop lady is needed to guide children across.

“The main issue relates to the kids – they are not looking where they are going.

“The authorities have done everything to make it easier.”

Last week, an inquest at the former Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court heard how the other children, who were younger than Sarah, managed to get across to the other side of the junction.

But Sarah, who was behind her friends, ran straight into the path of a gold Renault Scenic, which was travelling towards Fleetwood Nautical Campus.

Witnesses described how the children ran directly behind a slow-moving bus, and this totally obscured them from view of the driver of the Scenic, who had no chance to stop in time.

The accident happened just yards from Sarah’s home on Brook Street, near the spot where her brother Thomas was involved in a similar incident 10 years ago

After the accident, Sarah was taken to Royal Preston Hotel but died on Saturday November 9 from multiple-organ failure resulting from a severe brain injury.

The driver, who The Gazette has chosen not to name, was on her way to pick up a relative.

In a statement at court, she revealed she had been left traumatised by the incident, but Ms Duggan did not blame the woman for Sarah’s death.

She said: “We spoke to her. We told her it wasn’t her fault. It could have been anyone and we wouldn’t blame them.

“We’ve not blamed her for anything which went on. It wasn’t her fault.”

Simon Jones, coroner for Preston and West Lancashire recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Having heard accounts from three witnesses, and that of the investigating officer, he said he was satisfied the driver of the car was blameless and had no chance to avoid the accident.

PC Bob Birch told the hearing that inquiries established the Scenic was in good condition, had been positioned on the correct part of the road and was travelling between 25mph and 30mph in a 30mph zone.

PC Birch also examined video evidence from the bus itself, which showed that the driver was in no position to see the children as they ran from behind the bus.

He described Fleetwood Road, which is known as an accident blackspot, as a busy road with multiple junctions.

Fleetwood East County Coun Ron Shewan said a pelican crossing needs to be installed at the junction to help children cross easier.

He added: “She (Sarah) is not the first child to be knocked down in that area.

“For a lot of children and their families it’s very, very personal when something like this happens. I really think quite rightly there should be a pelican crossing – but you still have the problem of children acting on impulse.

“We are not going to cure that. Children do put themselves in danger and it brings a great deal of pain to the community.

“I would be all for taking every measure possible.”

Sim Lane-Dixon, highways manager for Wyre, said: “We’re always working to make our roads safe.

“We will evaluate whether there’s any action we could reasonably take to prevent similar incidents in future.”

Ms Duggan said she is still coming to terms with the loss of Sarah, who died leaving her stepdad Gerry, grandma Brenda and five siblings.

She added: “I can’t go to bed until 1am or 2am every single night. I think she is coming through the door. After that time you think she is sleeping out.

“You think she is just going to turn up and expect to be in. But you wait and wait and wait – and she isn’t.”