Inquest told how young mother flung pushchair out of path of a lorry

First published in News

A BRAVE mum died saving the life of her young son, an inquest heard.

Dawn Graves suffered multiple injuries after being hit by a waste truck as she walked across Stephens Street, near Bury Road, Breightmet, in May. She “sacrificed her own life for the benefit of her son”, said deputy coroner Alan Walsh.

He said the 25-year-old mum-of-two had never given any thought to the danger to herself as she pushed her 20-month-old son’s pushchair to safety.

Witness Thomas Grimshaw said he flagged down the lorry driver — who was unaware of the accident — and his partner, Rachel Bell, rushed to comfort Miss Graves.

The court heard Miss Graves had been to a shop in Stephens Street and Miss Bell said she saw her with what appeared to be a bag of sweets.

Miss Bell told the inquest: “She was just stepping off the pavement and she continued to walk. She was fiddling with what appeared to be some sweets as she pushed the pram.”

She said she saw Miss Graves push the pram out of the way and then saw her fall to the ground. “It was all very quick,” she added.

When asked if she felt the driver could have avoided the accident Miss Bell said “no”.

A distressed Mr Grimshaw said the vehicle was driving “slowly” and he managed to get the driver’s attention and the lorry was brought to a halt.

“The wagon was in clear view,” said Mr Grimshaw.

Jordan Kay-Haworth was taking a break from work at a barber’s shop in Bury Road when he saw the lorry turning into Stephens Street from Bury Road.

He said he saw the young mother leave the shop, look, then carry on walking and estimated the lorry speed as being either four or five miles an hour.

“I saw her momentarily look down,” he said.

Mr Kay-Haworth said he could not say for certain if a van parked outside the shop could have obstructed Miss Graves’ view of the lorry.

Lorry driver Eric Hamilton, who is not facing any charges following the accident, told the court he had done all required routine checks on his vehicle before leaving the Bury depot, where he was based, on the morning of Thursday, May 24, including checks on the mirrors.

He had been turning into Stephens Street to go home for a lunchtime sandwich when he stopped to allow a pedestrian, Isatu Jalloh, to cross in front of him, but he did not see Miss Graves.

“I was devastated,” said Mr Hamilton, who explained how Mr Grimshaw had flagged him down. “My legs were like jelly and I had to sit down.”

Although a close proximity mirror on the vehicle was found to be incorrectly aligned, experts were unable to say if its correct position would have helped Mr Hamilton to see Miss Graves.

The court heard Miss Graves had been looking forward to her wedding to her partner, Barry Guest, in August.

She was also studying with the hope of getting a job.

Her mother, Audrey Ashmore, from Horwich, said her daughter had been more settled than she had ever been in her life.

In recording a verdict that Miss Graves’ death was a result of “an accident”, Mr Walsh recognised the terrible scene that had met the witnesses.

He said: “I believe what happened was horrific for the witnesses. Dawn suffered unsurvivable injuries.”

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