Published: 06:00, 27 March 2021
A driver who fatally injured a young mum on a motorway did not realise he had hit a person, an inquest has heard.
Csaba Sajtos was driving along the M20 near Ashford when he collided with Elle-Mae Wood in the road.
The body of Ms Wood was found in the Coastbound carriageway near Junction 10a in the early hours of June 14 last year.
The ongoing inquest into the tragic incident heard that the mum-of-one had walked down to the carriageway after leaving the William Harvey Hospital.
The coroner's court will later hear more on why the 20-year-old, who was reportedly in a confused state, was able to walk out of the hospital without the police being alerted.
She had been checked into the A&E ward at the hospital earlier in the morning by police officers, who found her in a semi-conscious state after being called by a member of the public.
Body-worn footage showed the police officers guiding the young woman, who was visibly confused, to their van to take her to hospital.
After checking her into the waiting room, the police left after informing the hospital staff that they were to call the police if Ms Wood were to leave before being cared for.
Around two hours later, she left the department, and was seen on CCTV near the junction approximately 25 minutes later.
Today, the court heard that Mr Sajtos was driving from his home in Surrey to the Channel Tunnel in the early hours of that morning, when the tragic incident occurred.
In a written statement, he told the court: " I expected the journey to take me 60-90 minutes, the conditions were perfect other than it being dark.
"On the M20 about 15 minutes away from the tunnel, I was travelling in the fast lane between 60 and 70mph, with a clear and empty motorway.
"The lane was very dark, and I first became aware of something in the road less than half a second before I hit it.
"I stopped in lane three to get out and look around. I looked at the front of the car and could see the front bumper was sticking out a bit but it didn't look too severe in the darkness.
"It was so dark I couldn’t make anything out. I thought I might have hit a deer or a badger and it had run away."
Mr Sajtos told the court that he didn't realise the extent of the damage to his car, and so caught a train at the channel tunnel as planned.
A post mortem found that Ms Wood did not fall from height onto the road, and another eyewitness reported swerving to avoid a 'shape' reported to be her on the slip-lane a short time before the collision.
It also found that it was likely that Ms Wood had been prone on the ground when she was hit by the car, suggesting she may have tripped while walking.
Forensic Crash Investigators from Kent Police told the court that Mr Sajtos would not have been able to do anything to avoid the crash.
Sgt Peter Greaves said: "There was no street lighting, so the driver would have been solely reliant on his headlights.
"With that lighting, we estimate he would have been able to see an object at about 60 metres, which while travelling at 70mph would have given him between 1.5 and two seconds.
"It would be reasonable to suggest he would have been unable to see her in time to stop."
Shortly after her death, Ms Wood's family paid an emotional tribute to an "absolutely fantastic and devoted" mother.
The inquest has been adjourned until June, while additional witnesses are summoned.