Hearse death was tragic accident, inquest hears

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THE death of a Heanor woman crushed by a reversing hearse was a tragic accident, an inquest heard this week.

Former ordnance operative Valerie Griffiths died on July 17, 2009, as she made her way back from a shopping trip to her Abbott Street home, next to a funeral business.

The Preston born 46-year-old was only yards away from her side door when a hearse returning from a funeral reversed into the narrow courtyard without seeing her.

It ran her over, causing fatal damage to her liver.

Driver, Nigel Annable, 50, was cleared of criminal charges of causing death by driving without due care and attention by a court in November after the prosecution dropped the case.

In a letter read out at the inquest into Ms Griffiths’ death, a distraught Mr Annable wrote: “To this day I do not know why I did not see Ms Griffiths. I have relived the events over a million times in my mind.

“I can only surmise that she was either in my blind spot, was rushing or not thinking clearly and stumbled as I started to reverse.”

Assistant deputy coroner for Derby and South Derbyshire Paul McCandless recorded a verdict of accidental death.

In conclusion he stated Mr Annable, driving a black Jaguar limousine, reversed ‘carefully’ and in an ‘appropriate way’. He added Ms Griffiths’ death was a result of: “Mr Annable not seeing Ms Griffiths and she not seeing him until it was tragically too late.”

A post mortem examination on Ms Griffiths body revealed small traces of alcohol in her system.

Mr McCandless said as he returned his verdict, that this could have impaired her judgement on the fateful day.

Ms Griffiths’ partner, Adam Purdy, 41, was not present at the hearing but had previously stated he bore ‘no grudge’ against Mr Annable over the death.