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Inquest hears how driver could not have avoided hitting 12-year-old boy

PUBLISHED: 16:30 17 February 2015

Eastgate House, Thorpe Road, Norwich, where Norfolk Coroner's Court is situated in the ground floor. Picture: Denise Bradley

Eastgate House, Thorpe Road, Norwich, where Norfolk Coroner's Court is situated in the ground floor. Picture: Denise Bradley

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A postman driving home from work could not have avoided hitting a 12-year-old boy who ran out into the road in front of his car, an inquest has heard.

Rhys Yates, an under-13s player for North Walsham Rugby Club, suffered a traumatic brain injury after he was struck by the car on 18 October, 2014, in Ludham.

Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard how Reepham postman Patrick Jenkins was driving home in his convertible Peugeot 207 and had been doing about 30mph in the 40mph zone in Norwich Road.

He described how a figure suddenly appeared at the side of his car and he was unable to avoid hitting the person.

Mr Jenkins said: “I turned the wheels of the car because there was not time to brake and that was it. It happened so quickly.

“I didn’t know until I had stopped the car that it was a child that I had hit, because it was all so quick.”

He added: “It was just awful.”

Rhys’ father Michael, who attended the inquest along with his wife Kaja, said after Mr Jenkins had given evidence: “I can verify I saw the accident and I don’t think Mr Jenkins had any opportunity to do any avoiding action at all.”

The youngster was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where, following scans, doctors consulted with their peers at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and decided the catastrophic nature of his brain injuries were not survivable.

Rhys, who lived in the Broads village, died in the early hours of October 19.

The court heard how witness Karen Battistoni, who was driving in the opposite direction to Mr Jenkins, did not see Rhys prior to the impact, but said the oncoming car had been driving “quite normally”.

PC Graeme Brookes, of Norfolk Constabulary, said he estimated Mr Jenkins had been travelling between 28mph and 34mph at the time of the collision.

He told how, as a result of his investigation, it appeared Rhys had run to the end of a driveway and “carried into the carriageway without stopping or looking in an apparent attempt to cross the road.”

Norfolk Coroner Jacqueline Lake recorded a verdict of accidental death and said: “I’m satisfied there was nothing Mr Jenkins could have done to avoid the collision.”

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