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.
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 half a metre from safety when the tragedy happened at 7.15 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.
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.
Pc Colin Thomas, an experienced specialist in collision investigations, said “shocking” CCTV footage showed that “Lindsey’s head never deviated from the forward position”. “She just didn’t appear to react to the presence of the tram,” he said.
Pc Thomas added it had been “physically impossible” for the tram to have stopped.
There were found to be no defects with the vehicle, which had undergone a major overhaul only the day before the accident.
And distraught driver, Adrian Vickery, was said to have done everything he could to prevent the collision, including applying the tram’s emergency brakes.
The inquest, which was attended by several of Lindsey’s family and friends, heard that it was the first time she had used this level-crossing.
But the hearing quashed rumours that Lindsey was wearing headphones, using her mobile phone or even playing ‘chicken’ as she crossed the track.
“I can conclude with confidence that she was certainly not texting, making a phone-call or holding her phone to her ear,” said Nottinghamshire Coroner Mairin Casey.
This was confirmed by Mr Vickery, an experienced and respected driver for Nottingham Express Transit (NET), who said Lindsey “casually walked across at a normal pace”.
“I kept thinking to myself: move, move!” he told the inquest. “I can remember her hitting the windscreen, the tram juddering to a halt and then deadly silence.”
The tram was carrying 29 passengers, two of whom also gave evidence to the inquest.
Teresa Mercer told how she had to turn her head away because she knew Lindsey was going to be hit by the tram.
While Emily Espinosa said the vehicle braked so hard “I thought it was going to come off the rails”.
Tram conductor Gary Chappell said that after the collision, he heard the sound of girls (Lindsey’s three friends) screaming. He rushed out with an off-duty nurse, who had been on board, to try and help her.
However, pathologist Dr Charles Padfield told the hearing that the injuries to Lindsey’s head and internally were so severe that she would have died on impact.
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.
The inquest was told 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.”
Since the tragedy, Network Rail has spent an estimated £1 million on a new footbridge at the level-crossing to improve safety.
In 2008, Hucknall woman Jean Hoggart (65) and her seven-year-old grandson, Mikey Dawson, were killed at the same spot when struck by a train.