Standon biker Leah Lewis hit tree before vehicle ran her over
A MOTORCYCLIST was killed after she lost control of her bike before being run over by a car on a rural road, an inquest heard.
Leah Lewis died as she was riding to work along the A53 close to Loggerheads.
The 21-year-old, who lived in Standon, lost control of her Yamaha 125, which skidded along a kerb, throwing her into a tree.
The driver of a silver Mercedes then failed to see Leah, who had come to rest in the road, and drove over the motorcyclist.
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An inquest at North Staffordshire Coroner's Court yesterday heard how the nursing home carer died at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire the following morning.
North Staffordshire deputy coroner David James recorded a verdict of accidental death after hearing evidence from 21 people.
However, Mr James said it remained impossible to determine the exact circumstances of the accident.
He said: "The underlying factor to me in all of this is this is a tragic case of a 21-year-old girl with her life in front of her. She was a happy content girl from a close and supportive family.
"Whatever I say, we will never know exactly what happened."
The inquest heard how a Peugeot 205 car had swerved to avoid Leah after the crash.
The driver of the car, Karen Broadhurst, at first believed something may have fallen off the back of a lorry.
Mrs Broadhurst then stopped and placed her hazard warning lights on, before calling for help. Stephen Hilton, the driver of the Mercedes, then failed to stop in time, later telling police his attention was focussed on the Peugeot.
PC Mark Mould, a collision investigator who studied the scene, said a reconstruction had shown it would have been incredibly difficult stop in time, and estimated the braking distance at 50mph to be about 53 metres.
Mr Hilton, who was interviewed under caution but released without charge, apologised to Leah's family during the hearing.
He said: "I'm desperately, desperately sorry for your loss."
Leah had been drinking at the Loggerheads Hotel earlier in the day, although Mr James ruled out alcohol as playing any part in what happened.
The coroner said evidence strongly suggested none of the motorists were speeding at the time of the accident, which happened at around 6.55pm on March 22 last year.
Mr James said he "couldn't ignore" the fact that an iPod and a set of damaged earphones were found at the crash scene – although friends insisted Leah never listened to music while riding.
Questions were also raised about the state of the road, which was known to have needed re-surfacing at the time and that was done later.
The coroner concluded it was likely that the most serious injuries to Leah's head and chest were caused by her collision with the tree and road.
Janet Lewis, Leah's mother, said the family would never be able to come to terms with their loss.
She said: "She would always tell us she loved us. What has happened has broken our hearts and we will miss those words."