Drivers ignoring speed sign put up after youngster’s bike crash death

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A MOTORBIKE rider had no chance to stop before he knocked down a nine-year-old on a North Shields estate last June, an inquest heard.

John Laing was doing less than 20mph when his blue Honda CB600 struck Jordan Summerson after the youngster ran into the road in front of him, last Thursday’s inquest into the tragedy was told.

Though speeding was not a factor in the accident, in Devon Road, Chirton Grange – just yards from Jordan’s Bridport Road home – his death prompted a campaign to have a traffic-calming sign put up there.

A sign was put up within weeks, but it is already going unheeded by motorists, raising fears that it is just a matter of time before there is another accident.

Neither Jordan nor Mr Laing were able to see each other as their views were blocked by a black Mercedes box van parked nearby, the inquest was told.

The only witness at the scene of the tragedy was Jordan’s cousin Matthew McKenna, also nine, who had been playing with the youngster at the time.

Matthew heard the sound of the motorbike moments before the impact, the inquest, held in North Shields, heard.

Carl Nicholls was sitting in his lounge in Devon Road when he heard a noise and rushed outside to help.

He found Mr Laing, a neighbour of his, drifting in and out of consciousness, lying on the road in front of his bike. Jordan was partially beneath the bike.

He said several neighbours came out to help both casualties, and one put a duvet around Jordan to keep him warm.

“I became aware of a man running down the road who I now know to be the child’s father,” said Mr Nicholls. “He was hysterical. I tried to calm him down. He was clearly very upset.”

Mr Laing, a motorcyclist for the last 50 years, told police after the crash: “It was over in a second. It was that quick.

“It was just a thud, a bang. I came off the bike, and I was lying there.” He added: “I don’t want to remember it any more.”

Collision investigator Gary Luther said Mr Laing had been doing between 15mph and 20mph. He added: “The rider of the motorbike has reacted as well as could have been expected in the circumstances”

A post mortem revealed Jordan died as a result of multiple head injuries.

A speed detection sign put up in Devon Road in response to a campaign by residents following Jordan’s death has failed to stop motorists going too fast, the inquest heard.

The sign, installed by North Tyneside Council the month after Jordan’s death, flashes when a vehicle’s speed exceeds 20mph to warn them to slow down.

However, some drivers are still disregarding the speed limit, reported North Tyneside coroner Eric Armstrong.

He said: “The mean speed in July was 27mph. Sadly, as the year goes on, there seems to be an indication of the public forgetting this tragic accident.”

Mr Armstrong revealed one vehicle had been clocked doing 37mph and two had been recorded doing 47mph.

“It seems to suggest that people have become blasé about the fact there has been a young child killed in that spot,” said Mr Armstrong.

“I can only hope that none of them ever find themselves in the position of Mr Laing, and I refer to his comments that he doesn’t want to think about it any more. I in no way suggest that as an indication of guilt.

“It’s an appalling thing to lose a child, and to lose a child so close to your home will be horrendous to cope with.

“Other road users should be aware that a 20mph limit is not there to be a spoilsport or a nuisance.

“That road has claimed one life, and all of them are just as likely to be in a collision with a small child.

“Just because they do the right thing doesn’t mean that a child is going to do the same thing.”

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Armstrong added: “I know that the family chose not to attend today because the wounds are still too fresh. My sympathies go out to them.”