A driver sobbed in court as he told how he wished he could turn back time to before his car was involved in a collision led to the death of an 11-year-old Doncaster school girl.
Plasterer Paul Ellis told Doncaster coroners’ court how the Ella Jane Smith ‘just appeared’ in front of his vehicle when the collision occurred in Watch House Lane, Bentley.
Described as an ‘independent’ young girl, Ella, of Wellington Grove, Bentley, had been to the McColls convenience store in Railway Court to buy some sweets just moments before the crash took place at around 4.30pm on February 19 this year.
The Bentley Kirkby Avenue Primary School pupil had been to the shop as part of her ‘regular routine’ of stopping at the shop on the short journey from her home in Wellington Avenue to her grandmother’s house in Broughton Avenue, located at the junction of Watch House Lane.
Mr Ellis, of Doncaster, was on the way to visit his ‘unwell’ girlfriend, travelling in his silver Citreon C3 vehicle, when he collided with the youngster.
He told the court: “Basically she just ran from between parked cars and ran straight across and there’s no way on earth I could have stopped at all.
“She just came from nowhere and appeared on the left-hand side.
“I put my brakes straight away, I’ve got pretty good reaction times, but it was too late - I couldn’t stop it from happening.
“She hit my windscreen and then the road.
“I wish I could I could turn back time, but I can’t.”
Matthew Denver was also travelling on Watch House Lane with his father when the collision occurred, and was one of the first people on the scene.
In a statement read out in court, Mr Denver said: “We were travelling near to the shop called McColls when we heard this huge bang.
“The girl was around 20 yards away when it happened.
“We stopped the car, and as I got out I had my phone in my hand so I rang 999,
“I went to get her a dust sheet to put over as a blanket as we waited and a woman who said she knew first aid started trying to help her.”
The ambulance service arrived on the scene at around 4.40pm, and began trying to resuscitate Ella, who was breathing but unresponsive at that time.
She was taken to Doncaster Royal Infirmary, where medics, including Dr Juan Ballesteros, continued trying to save the ‘bubbly’ schoolgirl, but she died shortly after.
Dr Ballesteros, Clinical Director for A&E at Doncaster and Bassetlaw hospitals, confirmed that the Ella died from catastrophic head injuries caused by the collision.
Investigating officer, PC Mark Smith, said he believed Mr Ellis was travelling up to the speed limit of 30mph on Watch House Lane when the collision occurred.
PC Smith added: “The collision occurred when Ella stepped on to the carriageway. I don’t believe there’s anyway the driver could have prevented the collision from happening.”
The court was also told how, in a cruel twist of fate, Ella had been taught how to cross the road by her parents Victoria and David Smith on Watch House Lane - the very same road where her fatal collision occurred.
Mr and Mrs Smith were the licensees at The Drum pub, which was later replaced by the McColls convenience store following its closure, between 2007 and 2010.
During this time the family lived above the pub, and from the age of three Ella was taught how to cross Watch House Lane, as she walked with her mother to her grandmother’s house just a few yards away in Broughton Avenue.
Mrs Smith said in a statement: “I always taught Ella to cross the road by going on the right hand side near to Broughton Avenue.
The teaching assistant added: “Ella was a sensible and mature girl, and always looked both ways when she crossed the road.
“The last words I said to her was ‘I love you, make sure you watch the road’.
“Because of how much I have driven it in to her about cars and roads I can’t believe the way she died. I just don’t understand what happened.”
Mr Ellis was regarded as a ‘vulnerable witness’ and his age and address were not read out in court for this reason, a spokesman at Doncaster Coroners’ Court told The Star.
Doncaster coroner Nicola Mundy recorded a conclusion of road traffic collision.
She said: “I would like to extend my sympathies to Ella’s family.”