Driver could not avoid man. 90, killed on road

Thomas Blakeley, aged 90, died after sustaining fatal injuries when he fell backwards into the path of a car in Station Road, Stainforth in February this year.
Thomas Blakeley, aged 90, died after sustaining fatal injuries when he fell backwards into the path of a car in Station Road, Stainforth in February this year.
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The family of an ex-miner killed when he was hit by a car after he fell into a Doncaster road have paid tribute to a ‘caring’ man.

Doncaster Coroner’s Court heard 90-year-old Thomas Blakeley had just completed his regular trip to the bookmaker on Station Road, Stainforth, when he made his way across the busy main road towards a bus stop on the opposite side.

The inquest heard that Mr Blakeley, of Grange Avenue, Hatfield, had safely crossed the road at a ‘sprightly’ pace and made it on to the kerb on the other side when he suddenly fell backwards into the road.

Less than two seconds later, Mr Blakeley, who was in the Merchant Navy for more than 30 years, was struck by a Vauxhall Astra driven by Paula Harper.

Ms Harper told the court she only saw the Doncaster grandfather ‘from the corner’ of her eye as he began to fall.

She said: “I saw an elderly man falling backwards, and I tried to swerve a little bit.

“I just heard a bang on the left side of my car. I stopped my car as soon as I heard that and got out.”

Passers-by at the bus stop called the emergency services after the accident on Saturday, February 21, at about 12.30pm.

Mr Blakeley was rushed to hospital but died five days later from ‘catastrophic head injuries’.

PC Andrew House, a forensic collision investigator, told the hearing Mr Blakeley may not have even hit the floor by the time he was struck by Ms Harper’s vehicle.

PC House said: “The Astra had very little time to react; it was about 10 metres away when Mr Blakeley started to fall.

“I would estimate she was travelling within the speed limit of 30 miles an hour.”

PC House said Mr Blakeley did not appear to lose his footing and could not tell what had caused him to fall backwards.

Returning a verdict of accidental death, coroner Fred Curtis said he did not believe anything could have been done to prevent the collision.

He said: “Mr Blakeley still led an active life which he enjoyed.

“He travelled the world and led a full and interesting life.

“He visited the bookmakers several times a week and no doubt he had been in to the bookmakers that morning, but sadly he wasn’t to see the results of his bets for that afternoon.

“In broad terms, it seems to me Mr Blakeley began to fall backwards in to the road at the point Ms Harper’s vehicle was very close to him.

“I am satisfied she was so close that it was impossible to avoid colliding.

“I extend my deepest sympathies to Mr Blakeley’s family in these unusual and one-off circumstances. It’s particularly sad that he reached the safety of the pavement before falling backwards into the road.”

Speaking after the inquest, Danielle Blakeley, of Bretton Close, Dunscroft, paid tribute to her grandfather.

The 28-year-old said: “He was a family man. He loved having his family around him.

“He was very proud and he was a loving husband, grandfather and great grandfather and he will be missed by us all.”