Death of Trafford safety campaigner, Hilda Laffey, was 'avoidable'

Hilda Laffey

Hilda Laffey

First published in News
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Messenger Newspapers: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE death of a prominent Trafford road safety campaigner could have been avoided, an inquest heard.

Hilda Laffey, 81, was knocked down by a car as she crossed Moorside Road, Flixton, in August 2011, the road on which she lived and had been campaigning for a crossing to be installed.

Miss Laffey was a matron and then a director of nursing, before becoming a prominent member of the 60+ Group, which campaigned for free swimming for the over-60s, as well a campaigner against changes at Trafford General.

PC David Holmes, a forensic collision reconstruction officer who attended the scene, said Miss Laffey and her small dog had crossed one side of the road and were half way across the second carriageway when she was hit by a Toyota Aygo.

The inquest, which was held at Stockport Coroner's Court on January 29, heard that although the vehice hit Miss Laffey at low speed, her frailty meant this caused her serious fractures and internal injuries.

PC Holmes said: “If a vehicle was travelling at 30mph, the driver could react and stop had he paid attention to the pedestrian stepping off the curb.”

He added: “The accident was avoidable.”

The driver of the vehicle was elderly himself and has since died due to cancer.

PC Stuart Smith, who was the investigating officer on the case, said the driver and his wife — who both knew Miss Laffey through church and her campaign work — had seen Miss Laffey crossing the first carriageway.

He said the driver’s wife said she had seen Miss Laffey step out onto their side of the road and was about to tell her husband to stop, but realised that he already had.

PC Smith said that the driver had said at the time he had seen Miss Laffey on the otherside of the road, but was only concerned about what was happening on his own side and was of the opinion she should have stopped before crossing.

“I did test his eyes and he literally just about managed to pass. I think it was a little bit of guess work, but he did get right and I can’t take that away from him,” said PC Smith.

He added that the driver agreed to hand over his licence without complaint.

The inquest heard that Miss Laffey was carrying a white stick, which she used to raise when crossing roads to alert drivers that she had poor eye sight.

Summarising, deputy coroner Joanne Kearsley, said: “I am entirely satisfied that the injuries sustained after the accident caused her death.”

She said Miss Laffey had died of multiple organ failure and recorded a verdict of accidental death caused by a road traffic collision.

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