The reason why a 13-year-old Bulwell girl walked into the path of a tram on the edge of Hucknall, killing her instantly, remains a mystery, an inquest heard this week.
But rumours suggesting she was wearing headphones, using her mobile phone or even playing ‘chicken’ at the time were all quashed.
Lindsey Inger, of Longford Crescent, Bulwell Hall Estate, died when hit on the ‘Bone Mill’ level-crossing, near Moor Bridge, Bestwood Village, on the evening of Wednesday 28th November 2012.
Lindsey was walking across the tram track behind three friends, and was just half a metre from safety when the tragedy happened at about 7.10 pm.
She was struck with such force that she was thrown 24 metres, and an imprint on the tram’s windscreen included her make-up and pink lipstick.
It was believed to be the first time Lindsey had used this crossing. However, experts told the Nottingham inquest they did not know why she had not seen the tram, nor heard the sound of its horn as it approached.
The experts were led by Pc Colin Thomas, a specialist with 26 years’ experience in almost 6,000 collision investigations, who had collated all the evidence.
Pc Thomas said “very shocking” footage from CCTV cameras on the tram showed that “Lindsey’s head never deviated from the forward position”.
“Her gait was normal -- of a child walking,” he said,.”She just didn’t appear to react to the presence of the tram.”
The four girls were crossing from the west side of the track in the direction of Bestwood Village, the inquest heard. The tram was travelling from Moor Bridge station towards Hucknall.
Lindsey’s three friends made their way over the crossing first and got to the central reservation. There was no evidence that Lindsey was racing to catch up with them, said Pc Thomas.
The inquest was attended by several of Lindsey’s family members and friends, including her 68-year-old foster mother, Marlene Starling.
Nottinghamshire Coroner, Mairin Casey, said it would have been “too painful” to play the CCTV footage to the court. But she added: “I can conclude with confidence that Lindsey was certainly not texting, making a phone-call or holding her phone to her ear.”
Pc Thomas felt it would have been “physically impossible” for the tram to have stopped in time.
It had built up speed from leaving Moor Bridge station to about 76 kilometres per hour (kmph), which was just under the maximum of 80kmph (or 50mph). Its main beam headlights were on and it had “very, very good brakes”.
There were found to be no defects with the vehicle, which had undergone a major overhaul only the day before the accident.
The tram-driver, Adrian Vickery, was also said to have done everything he could to prevent the collision, including sounding the tram’s horn continuously and applying its emergency brakes.
Pc Thomas estimated that Mr Vickery started sounding the horn about five seconds (the equivalent of 97 metres) before the collision -- when Lindsey was still behind barriers at the side of the track.
Had she been aware of the danger she was in, she could have waited. But instead she made her way over the level-crossing, seemingly oblivious.
Mr Vickery then operated the emergency brakes with such force that it threw the tram’s passengers forward.
“Sadly, there was not enough distance to make any difference whatsoever,” said Pc Thomas.
“Lindsey was projected forward 24 metres and came to a stop by some concrete plinths at the side of chain fencing. The tram came to a stop alongside her.”
Family members said there had been “stories” suggesting Lindsey was still conscious, and had even spoken, after the collision.
However, pathologist Dr Charles Padfield told the hearing that the injuries to Lindsey’s head and internally were so severe that she would have been killed on impact.
“She suffered huge trauma in a split second,” said Dr Padfield. “Even before her body came to rest, she would have been dead. The head injury would have rendered her unconscious.”
Another police officer, Det Con Helen Neaverson, said the other three girls, who had walked over the crossing seconds before the accident, were “incredibly distressed” when interviewed.
“They wanted to say what had happened, but they found it very, very difficult,” she told the hearing.
The inquest heard that the police, NET and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) had all carried out their own investigations into the tragedy.
“But all the agencies agree that it is impossible to say why Lindsey crossed the tracks,” said Miss Casey.
“It is a question they cannot answer. The tragedy is that the person who can answer is no longer with us.”