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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Second’s misjudgement cost special Cumbria girl her life

A SECOND’S misjudgement as she hurried to meet her friend after school led to the death of a popular Cumbria teenager, an inquest was told.

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Bethany Louise Crook.

Bethany Louise Crook, 15, of Lindal had arranged to meet her friend after she stayed late at Ulverston Victoria High School.

Her friend gave evidence at the inquest at Barrow Town Hall yesterday but the coroner Ian Smith ruled that she should not be identified.

She said she had arranged to meet Bethany by the A590 between Lindal and Swarthmoor. They were on opposite sides of the road when Bethany decided to cross. She had her mobile phone in her hand, her handbag and she started removing her ear-phones as she crossed the road.

She stepped out behind a Dutch-registered wagon which several witnesses agreed obscured the view in both directions. A mini-bus, containing a basketball team from Windermere School on the way to Barrow, caught her with a ‘substantial glancing blow’ that killed her.

Teacher, 27-year-old Jonathon Toogood, who gave his address as Windermere School, told the inquest he was an experienced and qualified mini-bus driver.

He said he caught sight of Bethany’s friend gesturing across the road. But he didn’t see Bethany before the impact with the front off-side of the mini-bus.

Motorist John O’Sullivan, of Back Lane, Ulverston, had been following the lorry heading towards Ulverston, when he saw Bethany waiting to cross the road.

He said: “The lorry would have impeded her view. She crossed behind it with her friend on the other side of the road. They were gesticulating and shouting at each other. She got half-way and hesitated before the impact.”

Bethany was pronounced dead at Furness General Hospital but Mr Smith said death was probably almost instant.

He said: “She tried to pause and take a step back but there was no time for anyone to take evasive action, so Bethany and the mini-bus came into contact with fatal, tragic consequences for Bethany.

“It was one second’s misjudgement of the sort anyone can make.”

Mr Smith recorded a verdict of accidental death.

After the accident on May 1, friends paid tribute to the “special, beautiful” girl who had seen her favourite band One Direction in concert the week before she died.

Pupils at both Ulverston Victoria High and Windermere schools were given counselling.

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