Published: 06:00, 04 February 2021
| Updated: 14:42, 05 February 2021
Teenager Ellie Paine's death was a "tragic accident", a coroner has ruled.
An inquest at County Hall, Maidstone, heard how the 16-year-old Sittingbourne schoolgirl was crossing the A2 Canterbury Road when she was struck by a car driven by self-employed food delivery driver Jamie Hopkins.
Police told assistant coroner James Dillon that Mr Hopkins stood no chance of avoiding the teenager as she crossed at traffic lights at the junction with Murston Road.
The crash happened in the dark at 6.15pm on Sunday, November 1, as Mr Hopkins was taking an order from the Lateef Indian Restaurant in Bell Road to a customer in Teynham.
The inquest, held on Tuesday, was told that CCTV footage showed Ellie, who was in Year 11 of the town's Highsted Grammar School, did not pause to push the button at the pelican crossing.
Her family believes she saw the red light for traffic waiting in the right filter lane nearest to her and presumed it was safe to cross the whole road. A BMW car waiting to turn right probably blocked her view of Mr Hopkins' silver Vauxhall Zafira people carrier until it was too late, so neither party may have seen each other.
Mr Hopkins said in a statement that he had already made two deliveries that night and had returned to the restaurant to pick up three more. He was on his way to Teynham and in the middle of three lanes at the junction at Snipeshill.
He said the traffic lights were green and one car was waiting to turn right into Rectory Road.
"I was going straight over and the next thing which happened was something hit my car on the front. I braked and stopped outside the Flame Grill takeaway, got out and that was the first time I realised there was a person in the road."
He dialled 999 as others raced to help Ellie.
Mr Hopkins was given a roadside breath test which was negative. Police also found no mechanical defects on his car. CCTV cameras put his speed at 28mph.
He said: "If I'd known what was going to happen that day I would never have gone into work. If I'd seen her I would have done anything to avoid her."
Ben Cooper, who was in a BMW parked at the lights waiting to turn right, said: "The girl didn't stop. She just carried on walking across the road. She was halfway across when the other car hit her."
Off-duty police officer Joel Mitchell had been driving home in his Volvo and was behind Mr Hopkins' car.
He said: "Suddenly, to my great shock, I saw a young girl, who I had not seen at all, come over the roof of the Zafira and land in front of my car. She was in an all-black tracksuit with white trainers."
He gave her first aid, handed out hi-vis jackets and put out a warning beacon to motorists as others placed blankets over her. He said: "She was breathing but made no reply to me."
Ellie was taken to King's College Hospital, London, where she died on November 4 after her devastated family agreed to allow her life support to be turned off. The inquest heard she had an un-survivable traumatic brain injury.
Angela Holmes, a member of the Kent Police serious collision investigation unit, said she thought Ellie, who lived in Premier Way, Kemsley, had probably been jogging at the time. Ellie's headphones and mobile phone were found nearby and the music app Spotify had been playing, although the CCTV could not confirm she had been wearing them at the time.
Miss Holmes speculated that if Ellie had been using them they might have led to a "distraction". She said if Ellie had been wearing her hood it could have restricted her "peripheral vision". She added: "The stationary BMW could have restricted the view. Mr Hopkins had insufficient distance for successful avoiding action to be taken."
Some witnesses complained the junction had been badly lit but the inquest heard all street lights were working and there had been only four "slight injury" accidents there in the past three years.
Coroner Mr Dillon said: "This tragic death of a young girl appears to have been unavoidable." He put the cause down to a road traffic accident.
The inquest heard that Mr Hopkins had only been insured for "social, domestic and pleasure" use at the time of the crash. Police said separate inquiries were ongoing.
Afterwards, Ellie's stepfather Mark Foster, speaking on behalf of her mother Jody, said: "This was a tragic accident and a catastrophe for everyone. It has been a terrible waste of a young life. Ellie was a sensible, mature, well-behaved and well-educated girl.
"She was a kind-hearted, caring and creative girl who had a zest for life. She had overcome anxiety and had learned to love herself. It was an inspirational and beautiful transformation. Ellie had everything to live for and was excited about her future."
It has raised £2,950 for six charities: King's College Hospital; Abigail's Footsteps; Rhys Daniels Trust; The Aspinall Foundation; Memory Makers and 4Louis.