On 22.04.14, an Inquest was held for the death of Wieslava Nowacka, who was killed by an Arriva bus on 05.10.13.
The Inquest was very unsatisfactory in trying to understand how the death occurred.
Here are the facts:
On a Saturday afternoon at 16:30, Wieslawa got off a bus travelling North on Stoke Newington Road at the bus stop you see. There was a second bus which stopped behind Wieslawa’s bus, just as in the picture. Wieslawa decided to cross the street by walking between the two buses. As she emerged on the carriageway, she was allegedly looking left. An Addison Lee taxi, with two passengers on board, also travelling North, swerved away from her and slightly touched her. An empty Arriva bus, travelling behind the taxi, braked but was not able to avoid Wieslawa; she was hit by the front window and died later from the injuries.
Here is a picture taken shortly after the crash:
No witnesses came to court. The coroner read three statements from the taxi driver, one of the passengers in the taxi and a passenger of the second bus at the stop (No. 149 in the picture).
All the statements concurred that Wieslawa looked the wrong way; the taxi passenger noted that she did not attempt to step back after being brushed by the taxi.
I found the details given by the bus passenger too detailed: it sounded like it was made up.
The Police said that they have looked at 2 CCTV tapes on the buses and a private one from a shop opposite and testified that Wieslawa was looking the wrong way. No CCTV footage was shown in court.
Wieslawa had lived seven years in London. She was not a tourist. She was 56 and lived in the area. It is therefore very difficult to understand why she would be “looking the wrong way” when crossing a busy A road, emerging between two buses.
The Coroner was happy to accept the Police version of events without questioning. He never asked simple questions such as:
- Was the driver under time pressure to return to the depot?
- If the taxi driver was able to avoid hitting Wieslawa, why wasn’t the bus driver able to do the same, in spite of having more time to react?
Wieslawa’s husband had returned to Poland; the family solicitors were engaged only as observers (they were sitting in the gallery, not at the victim’s table), and the Coroner’s attitude was “Let’s archive this case quickly”. Rather than questioning the improbability of the Police case, he concluded with this derogatory remark: “Wieslawa was the author of her own demise: she looked at the wrong direction”
I left the court room with the feeling that the truth of what happened to Wieslawa had been conveniently suppressed.
P.S. The pedestrian crossing from where the top picture was taken, has a delay of up to 40 seconds, after someone presses the button; probably the main reason why Wieslawa chose to undertake such a risky course of action.
If TfL creates risky conditions for ordinary citizens, then it should instruct its staff and that of its contractors to drive with caution where risk has been increased.
Drive carefully and slowly when
- in crowded shopping streets, Home Zones and Quiet Lanes or residential areas
- driving past bus and tram stops; pedestrians may emerge suddenly into the road
The Bus driver had two very good reasons to slow down, but he didn’t.