Driver not to blame for girl’s death, inquest told

Travellers site Doncaster Road, Wakefield
Travellers site Doncaster Road, Wakefield
Share this article

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD girl was killed after she ran onto a road and into the path of a van, an inquest heard.

Savannah Keenan died from head injuries after being knocked down close to the entrance of Heath Common caravan park on August 8 last year.

She lived at the site with her parents, Dawn and Michael Keenan and her three siblings.

In a statement, which was read at the hearing, Mrs Keenan said: “Savannah was a beautiful little girl with a big heart.”

An inquest, in Leeds yesterday, found that the driver,of the van Gerald Johnston, was not to blame.

He was driving a red Ford Transit van away from the site towards Doncaster Road at 6pm when he hit Savannah.

He told police he did not know he had hit her until his family called him afterwards.

Mr Johnston, who appeared at the hearing, immediately returned to the caravan park and admitted responsibility.

Giving evidence PC Philip Eastwood, investigating officer, said that Savannah would have only been visible for around a second.

Police collision investigator Robert Crispin said Mr Johnston was travelling at around 12 mph when it happened.

And even if he had have seen her he may not have been able to prevent the tragedy.

Mr Crispin said: “The driver may not have had time to apply the brakes before the vehicle hit the child.”

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Hinchliff, said: “Here we have a dreadful situation which is the dread, I believe, of every driver and parent that a small child might run into the road into the path of a vehicle as Savannah has done and died as a consequence and this is exactly what has happened to poor Savannah.”

Mr Johnston was arrested after the accident but charges have since been dropped.