Road safety pledge after death of Hartlepool teenager Rhys Hewitt

Rhys Hewitt
Rhys Hewitt

THE family of a tragic teenager are to work with council chiefs to see if safety can be stepped up on the road where he was hit by a car.

Schoolboy Rhys Hewitt died following the collision outside the Stagecoach depot in Brenda Road, Hartlepool, on October 15, last year.

An inquest by town coroner Malcolm Donnelly heard the youngster’s family are keen to work with Hartlepool Borough Council on potentially improving safety on the stretch – possibly by creating a crossing or signs showing where best to cross.

As well as wanting to reduce the speed limit from 40mph to 30mph, they were also concerned about a number of street lights being out at the time of the crash.

Mr Donnelly ruled that the cause of Rhys’ death was severe traumatic brain injury.

Rhys’ father, former Pools player Marty Hewitt, told the inquest: “I would really like the council can look at that strip of road to hopefully make it safer for the public and for drivers.

“We were there last week and there were elderly people who couldn’t get across.

“There’s a bus stop but what is the means of crossing for people?

“I personally think the speed limit should be reduced, especially in an urban area like this. We wouldn’t be sat here today if the speed limit was 30mph. It’s not safe because we have had a fatality.

“Some of the lights were out on that side of the road.”

He added: “I don’t want it to happen again.”

The hearing was told that council boss Peter Frost had agreed to meet with the family to discuss their concerns and was “more than happy to review the area in question”.

Mr Donnelly said: “I’m satisfied that the local authority are going to review this road, and that they are happy for you to be involved in that.”

The inquest heard that Rhys, from Grace Close, in Seaton Carew, was walking along Brenda Road – on the same side as the Stagecoach depot – to meet his girlfriend at Burn Valley Wines near to Sydenham Road, in Hartlepool, shortly before 7pm.

As he got to the Stagecoach entrance, he decided to cross the road, onto the same side as B&Q, around the same time as a bus, whose driver had finished his routes for the day, was waiting to turn right into the depot in the dedicated lane.

At the same time, Mr Wallace, also of Seaton Carew, who was driving from the Burn valley area taking a pizza home, drove past the bus.

It was then the collision happened.

Sergeant Andy Lawson, a senior investigating officer from the Cleveland and Durham investigations Unit, said: “The bus has obscured Rhys’ view and Mr Wallace’s view, and by the time they both saw each other, neither had that much time to react.”

He added: “From the first point of impact to where the car stopped was a very short distance indeed.

“We viewed CCTV footage from the service gates at B&Q. The car driver had not done anything wrong.”

Sgt Lawson read a statement from the car driver which said: “I’d just been to pick a pizza up to return to my flat when I came off the roundabout. I saw there was a Stagecoach bus turning right. I continued to drive along. I saw a flash of something out of my side and before I knew it I saw a face with a hood up, and then it hit the car.

“I jumped out of the car and ran to the young lad. Three other men stopped and put a coat around him.”

The English Martyrs School pupil died in James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Police tests showed there was nothing wrong with Mr Wallace’s car and there were no traces of alcohol or substances in his system.

The inquest also heard that rumours of Rhys wearing headphones at the time were wrong, as he actually had the wires entwined in his hand.

Mr Donnelly recorded a verdict of death as a result of a road traffic collision.