A THREE-YEAR-OLD boy killed in a hit and run collision may have run into the road after losing sight of his mother, minutes after a near miss involving another car, an inquest has been told.
Danny Wake suffered unsurvivable head injuries after being hit by a vehicle on the way home from a trip into Darlington town centre with his family in November last year.
A 26 second gap in CCTV footage from buses passing the scene missed the moment of the collision and there are no eye-witnesses to say how he came to be in the road.
Despite spending thousands of hours trawling through CCTV and speaking to dozens of potential witnesses, police say they are no closer to identifying the vehicle, or the driver, who hit Danny.
It emerged at the inquest that Danny had run into the road earlier in the walk home and had been narrowly missed by a car, prompting a warning from his mother, Kayren Winter, to be careful.
Minutes later, after Miss Winter turned a corner, Danny came to be in the highway in Falmer Road, where he was fatally injured.
Miss Winter attended the inquest in Crook with family members but left the room in tears after hearing details of her son’s injuries from the post mortem examination report.
A Home Office pathologist found Danny died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, which would have left him instantly unconscious.
His injuries were consistent with having been hit by a vehicle and dragged along the road, but the pathologist was unable to say if he was standing or lying down, perhaps having tripped and fallen into the road, at the point of impact.
Coroner Andrew Tweddle heard Danny had been walking along Neasham Road, in Darlington, with his mother, who had his younger brother in a pushchair, and his six-year-old cousin at about 10.30am on Monday, November 4 last year.
Detective Superintendent Kevin Weir, who led the investigation into Danny’s death, gave details of events in the run up to the moment of the collision.
He said: “Danny was ahead of his mother and when they got to a junction he ran out into the road and was nearly run over – Kayren warned him not to do that and had hold of his hand but he started dawdling behind.
“CCTV footage shows he was about 10 metres, about 10 seconds, behind. Kayren and her niece carried on along Neasham Road and turned left down Falmer Road – Danny was behind on Neasham Road.
“This is conjecture on my part but what we think is likely to have happened is that Danny looked up, has not seen his mum and that’s potentially how he ran out into the road, in the hope of finding them.
“He appears to have gone straight out into the road.”
The only witnesses to the event were father and son Craig and Jack Price, who were sitting in a van opposite the Falmer Road junction.
Jack Price described seeing a white Mercedes Sprinter-style van with a red logo similar to a planet and red writing on the side hit something after it turned left into Falmer Road at about 15mph, although both men were unable to offer a more clear description or say how Danny ended up on the road.
Danny died a short time later in Darlington Memorial Hospital despite the efforts of the Prices, other passers-by and emergency medics.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Tweddle said the police have been unable to find anyone, or any CCTV, that clearly saw what happened to Danny He added: “We just do not know exactly what happened. We have the account of the Price family and the reconstruction from the collision unit but exactly what happened is unclear.”
Mr Tweddle explained his verdict of accidental death stemmed from an earlier court case, where a verdict of unlawful killing in similar circumstances was deemed to be unsuitable unless it could proven the vehicle was used deliberately as a weapon.