A DISABLED pensioner in an electric wheelchair was hit by a bus driver who was dazzled by the sun, an inquest heard.

Robert Rickaby, 66, died after suffering multiple injuries in the accident near his home in Catterick, North Yorkshire, on January 12.

School bus driver John Falconer told the inquest in Richmond Town Hall yesterday, the sun hit him like "someone shining a torch into his eyes" seconds before the collision.

Mr Falconer said: "I put my hand up to my eyes to take the glare away, then as I came over the top of the brow I felt a bump."

The accident happened on a minor road between Tunstall and Catterick.

Police traffic constable Dave Taylor said records showed the sun was just above the horizon at the time of the accident, at about 3.15pm.

"People who use these electric wheelchairs are very vulnerable," he said.

"Even if he had been wearing lots of illuminated clothing and the wheelchair was illuminated, he still would not have been seen.

"He was a small object and the bus driver was dazzled by the sun."

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Geoff Fell said neither the deceased nor the bus driver were at fault.

He said: "A few minutes either way could have made all the difference - it was an unfortunate combination of events."

Mr Fell said he was concerned about the safety of electric wheelchair users on the roads and told the deceased's family he would write to the appropriate authorities.

Two days before the accident, Catterick Village had been visited by members of Disability Action in Richmondshire, who assess problems for wheelchair users in the area.

The visit came after concerns were raised about the safety of Mr Rickaby and other wheelchair users who wished to visit the countryside around the village.