Home   Dover   News   Article

Road traffic collision conclusion on inquest on Heather Couchman, 32, killed when struck by Toyota Avensis in London Road, Dover

A young mother died while crossing the road against the lights, an inquest heard.

Heather Couchman, 32 of Edgar Road, Dover, attempted to cross the A256 London Road in her home town at its junction with Coombe Valley Road at 2.40pm on December 4 last year

The junction is controlled by traffic lights that work on a sequence.

Heather Couchman
Heather Couchman

The sequence can be overridden by pedestrians pushing a button, but there was no evidence that Mrs Couchman had done that.

Det Con Mark Robinson of Kent Police's Serious Collision Investigation Unit said there were three lanes of traffic at the junction.

The first lane was for traffic turning left into Coombe Valley Road. The next two lanes were for traffic going straight on.

Mrs Couchman had crossed over the turn left lane where traffic was halted by a red light, but she continued to cross the other two lanes whose light had just turned green.

Taxi driver Brian Martin had been stationary at the head of the queue in lane two. In evidence read to the court he said his light had changed to green and he was just letting off his handbrake when he became aware of a woman crossing from his left.

He stayed still but then became aware of a vehicle coming up in the offside lane. He realised Mrs Couchman would be struck but there was no time to give a warning

Mr Martin and two other witnesses - another driver behind him and a woman waiting at a nearby bus-stop - all described seeing Mrs Couchman break into a "run" or "jog" as she became aware that the lights had changed, but she ran into the path of a Toyota Avensis advancing in the outside lane and was tossed into the air, striking her head on the windscreen.

The driver of the Avenis, Ann Singleton, was subsequently tested but proved negative for drink and drugs.

She had not been using her mobile phone and her vehicle had no defects. There was no evidence that she had been exceeding the 30mph speed limit.

DC Robinson said that Mrs Singleton could not reasonably have expected that someone would cross in front of her when she had a green light.

He added that Mr Martin's taxi was a Fiat Diablo, a tall van-like vehicle, that may have obscured Mrs Couchman's view of the approaching car and obscured the driver's view of her.

He said the junction had "quite a confusing light sequence - it's quite a complex junction."

Mrs Couchman suffered massive head injuries. She was flown by air ambulance to Kings College Hospital in London where she died the next day as a result of injuries to her brain.

Born Heather Stavely in Ashford, she was a mother of two, but had separated from her husband, bus driver David Couchman, 18 months previously.

Coroner Katrina Hepburn concluded her death was the result of a road traffic collision.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More