Death of former solider hit by car on A19 was an accident, inquest rules

Junction of the A19 with the A690 Durham Road
Junction of the A19 with the A690 Durham Road

The death of a former solider who was hit by a car while walking along the A19 in Sunderland was an accident an inquest has ruled.

Stephen Walters, 52, was killed instantly when he was struck by a red Vauxhall Corsa being driven by a nurse while he crossed the slip road at Herrington Interchange, the hearing at Sunderland Civic Centre heard.

In the circumstances, I don’t think it would have been possible for the driver to have done anything differently to avoid Mr Walters, unfortunately

Claire Davies, Sunderland Assistant Coroner

Mr Walters, who was born in Jarrow but was living on Teesside, had been seen by numerous other drivers walking along the busy dual carriageway on February 9.

Earlier that day, he had been discharged from South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields and it is believed that he was making his way home to Middlesbrough when the collision happened.

The married father had been admitted to hospital two days prior after collapsing in a South Tyneside park, Sunderland Assistant Coroner Clare Davies heard.

The hearing was told that Mr Walters, who was living in supported accommodation in Grange Road, Middlesbrough, had been drinking alcohol and suffered a suspected overdose of antidepressant Amitriptyline.

He was discharged at 2.03pm on the day he died. Mr Walters was said to have mobility problems, but was seen walking unaided from the hospital in Harton Lane.

Accident investigator, Pc Alastair Graves, read a summary of his report, saying it had been dark at the time and was sleeting, when Mr Walters attempted to cross the unlit slip road.

He said no mechanical defects had been found on the car that would have contributed to the accident and witness evidence pointed to it travelling at well below the 70mph speed limit.

Pc Graves read out witness statements from other divers who had seen Mr Walters walk along the southbound carriageway from Testos Roundabout. One witness said they had narrowly avoided colliding with him and he was described as swaying and staggering.

Ms Davies said: “There had been a number of sightings of Mr Walters two to three hours before his death.

“He was walking along a stretch of the A19, possibly going home to Middlesbrough.

“At 7.20pm he had reached the A690 turn-off.

“From the evidence of police, this is a considerable distance of seven miles for a man with poor mobility, probably more because of the choice of roads taken by Mr Walters from the hospital.

“The driver of the car was a nurse on her way to work at Durham University Hospital.

“She left the A19 at the turn-off to the A690. Mr Walters was crossing the slip-road in front of her car.

“I find that the driver took what action she could, but that was very limited in the circumstances.

“She tried to take some evasive action, turning to the left.

“There was very, very limited time when Mr Walters could have crossed the road at all. It wouldn’t have been possible to cross it safely.

“The weather conditions were not good. It was sleeting and the road was wet.

“Mr Walters had walked quite a long way for somebody with mobility problems. He was unsteady on his feet.

“In the circumstances, I don’t think it would have been possible for the driver to have done anything differently to avoid Mr Walters, unfortunately.”

A post mortem report by Home Office pathologist Dr Ruth Bentley gave the cause of death as multiple injuries caused by a road traffic collision, with a secondary cause being the toxic effects of Amitriptyline.

Ms Davies recorded a conclusion of accidental death.