‘It’s hell but we don’t feel any anger towards driver’

A stained glass window in memory of Freddie at Stephen Freeman Community Primary School, Didcot. His parents Lea and Judith Perry are pictured with Freddie’s sister Eloise, 11

A stained glass window in memory of Freddie at Stephen Freeman Community Primary School, Didcot. His parents Lea and Judith Perry are pictured with Freddie’s sister Eloise, 11

First published in News by

THE family of a boy killed when he was hit by a car driven by a teacher say they bear no grudges as a coroner yesterday ruled the death was a complete accident.

Ten-year-old Freddie Perry ran out between two parked cars in Didcot on September 10 and died the following day.

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Freddie Perry

Yesterday Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter recorded that his death was accidental, a verdict Freddie’s father, Lea, a 40-year-old coach driver, said the family was expecting.

“It was an accident,” he said outside the Oxfordshire Coroners Court. “We don’t feel angry towards the lady who was driving.

“She’s got to live with this as well. We’ve got to deal with it.

“It’s hell. But nothing can bring him back.”

Mr Salter described Freddie’s death on September 11 last year as an “extremely tragic incident”.

The coroner found that “the general consensus of evidence” indicated the driver, Joanne Napper, a teacher at Didcot Girls’ School, “certainly wasn’t speeding and was travelling at about 20 miles per hour”.

The accident occurred on September 10 at about 5.30pm on Oxford Crescent, Freddie’s home street, which has a 30mph speed limit. The crescent is near the school.

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Flowers left near the scene of the accident.

“There was nothing really Mrs Joanne Napper could have done to avoid the collision,” said Mr Salter.

Freddie had been playing on a grassy area with a friend when he made a call on his mobile phone, the inquest heard.

His friend said in a recorded interview that Freddie then ran on to the road, holding his phone up to his right ear.

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Andrew Evans, a forensic collision investigator, told the court that Freddie ran out between two parked vehicles, a Ford Galaxy car and a Vauxhall Vivaro van. The van would have obscured Mrs Napper’s view, he said.

Mr Evans said only about half a second would have elapsed between Freddie running out from behind the van and the impact with Mrs Napper’s car, a small black Nissan Micra. Yet “a good reaction time” for a driver to respond to an incident was one second, he said.

In a statement, Mrs Napper said she had not seen Freddie run on to the road. “I slammed on my brakes as soon as I saw him,” she said.

Freddie died at the John Radcliffe Hospital the next day, after suffering traumatic brain injury.

The Perry family subsequently met Mrs Napper.

Mr Perry said the family were trying to persuade Oxfordshire County Council to improve road safety on Oxford Crescent by lowering the speed limit to 20mph and introducing safe places to cross.

The family is also applying to establish a registered charity to raise funds for road safety improvements across Didcot.

Comments (2)

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10:02am Thu 24 Apr 14

HomerSimpsonDoh says...

This was indeed a very tragic accident. However it shows that the 20mph zone in Oxford is not worth the cost and aggravation it causes.
This was indeed a very tragic accident. However it shows that the 20mph zone in Oxford is not worth the cost and aggravation it causes. HomerSimpsonDoh
  • Score: 13

1:42pm Thu 24 Apr 14

Madi50n says...

What incredibly strong people the Perry family are.

I can not even begin to imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes.

I am in awe of their strength and ability to move forward.
What incredibly strong people the Perry family are. I can not even begin to imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes. I am in awe of their strength and ability to move forward. Madi50n
  • Score: 6

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