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University of Kent at Canterbury student Bihari Payagala died after being hit by car in St Stephen's Hill

By Gerry Warren

"In my opinion, Miss Payagala failed to identify a safe gap in the traffic and from the moment she stepped off the pavement, a collision was unavoidable."

A detailed investigation of the scene and Fiesta found no road or vehicle defects that would have contributed to the collision, she added.

The Fiesta was being driven down the hill by pensioner Tony Kennett whose wife Carole was in the passenger seat.

He told coroner Rebecca Cobb that he noticed students walking up the hill but not Miss Payagala specificially.

He said he was going no faster than 30mph, adding: "You have to go slow down because of the speed humps.

"The first I was aware of the accident was when he heard a bang from the nearside of his car. I stopped as quickly and as safely as I could."

The scene of the crash in St Stephen’s Hill, Canterbury

In her evidence, Mrs Kennett said: "I didn't see her but heard a bang. My husband stopped the car and got out and ran round to her. She was being attended by other people.

"I heard one girl say 'it wasn't your fault, she just stepped out'."

Former student Alison Claffey was walking up the hill on the opposite side of the road with fellow student Aesha Bubb when it happened.

She told Miss Cobb: "I saw her walking up the hill in my peripheral vision and look left down the hill and then step out.

"The car hit her and she went up over the bonnet. I remember seeing the car and thinking 'why did she step out'?

"It's quite a busy road and it can take quite a few minutes to cross."

Miss Bubb told the coroner she had also noticed Miss Payagala walking up the hill.

She said: "I saw her walk up and then down and then make a movement to step into the road, but I looked ahead at that point.

"I saw a car coming towards us and than heard a sound and saw her in the air. I immediately called an ambulance on my phone and ran across to her. She was lying on her back on the pavement.

"Other people were there and someone had placed a book under her head. The ambulance took a fair bit of time to come, which I was growing concerned about."

Bihari Payagala, left, with best friend Lara Coker-Hutchins

Kelly Day was driving home to Canterbury from Whitstable when she pulled up behind the crash scene in St Stephen's Hill.

"Miss Payagala failed to identify a safe gap in the traffic and from the moment she stepped off the pavement, a collision was unavoidable" - police accident investigator

She told the coroner she was first aid trained so went to help the student.

She said: "I saw she was wearing pink headphones and had to remove them to put her in the recovery position."

"I was applying pressure to a head wound and tried to reassure her and said she was in good hands and would be OK, but her breathing became shallow.

"Doctors arrived and took over and said her condition was life threatening and she was later pronounced dead."

The hearing continues.






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