Woman (19) died after walking in front of lorry on A52
A 19-year-old woman died after deliberately walking out in front of a lorry on the A52 at Boston.
LGV driver Marc Gibbins has described the shocking moment Grace Brockelsby stepped out. He said there was nothing he could do to avoid a collision.
Grace died in Pilgrim Hospital from multiple injuries following the incident in Wainfleet Road at 7.45pm on June 5.
Just a few hours earlier she had been at the hospital for a psychiatric assessment following long-standing mental health problems. When the doctor went to photocopy some documents, Grace, of Church Meadows, Kirton, slipped out of the appointment early. The collision occurred about one kilometre away.
A resumed inquest hearing at Boston Coroner’s Court on Tuesday was told that dash-cam footage from Mr Gibbins’ cab showed Grace looking towards the LGV. As he drew close, she walked out towards the centre of the carriageway, paused and turned her back to the lorry, apparently bracing herself for the impact.
In written evidence, Mr Gibbins (48) said he went around the roundabout near the Pilgrim Hospital and on to the A52, which has houses on the left and open fields on the right.
“Up ahead I could see a blonde-haired female wearing a coloured top, standing on the left. She was on the grass verge and looking as if she was waiting to cross. She was looking in my direction.
“As I was almost level with her I saw her step out in front of me. I could not do anything in time to avoid hitting her.”
He brought the lorry to a stop as quickly as possible.
“I was in severe shock,” Mr Gibbins added. “I knew this was an intentional act as the girl had waited for me to be so close to her and was looking in my direction as she stepped out.”
A collision investigation found that the lorry was travelling at or about the 40mph speed limit and Mr Gibbins was not at fault in any way; he had stepped on his brakes, sounded the horn and flashed his lights. The inquest was told that Grace had gone into the road when he was 26 metres away. The lorry would have needed between 41 and 59 metres to stop.
Grace had suffered from mental health issues for about five years, including anorexia. She had twice been sectioned after intentional overdoses of prescribed medicines.
The teenager regularly told mental health care professionals of her frequent suicidal thoughts. However, she had showed no sign of ever acting upon them and had expressed that she wouldn’t because she didn’t want to upset her family. Grace, who admitted to struggling with the transition from childhood to adulthood, had been due to go to Boston College in September and was determined to prove that she could successfully complete A-Levels.
A post mortem revealed therapeutic levels of prescribed medication but also the presence of Etizolam – a Japanese drug used for research purposes and not meant for human consumption. It is up to ten times more potent than the anti-anxiety drug diazepam which Grace was also taking.
Lisa Teague, speaking on behalf of the family at the hearing, said: “I think all family and friends present here today do believe that Grace did intend to take her own life.”
However, the area coroner for Lincolnshire, Paul Smith, said he could not be sure she wanted to kill herself. There was no note, social media or phone message to suggest that it was suicide. Furthermore, she had often referred to acting on impulse with no thought as to the consequences and he could not be sure what effect Etizolam had on her cognitive ability.
Mr Smith gave a narrative conclusion, saying that Grace had deliberately walked into the path of the lorry.
He added: “I record that her intention in so doing cannot be determined to the required standard.”
Mr Smith gave his sympathies to all those involved and made particular mention of Mr Gibbins.
“Drivers are sometimes forgotten victims in cases like this and he has my sympathies as well as the family,” he said.