‘Mum was amazing, she loved life’ – Dignified family speak of grief after inquest into death of much-loved Hitchin mother, grandmother and great-grandmother

The scene at Queen Street after the collision. Picture: Harry Hubbard

The scene at Queen Street after the collision. Picture: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

A family have spoken of their grief after an inquest into the death of a much-loved Hitchin mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who had been looking forward to celebrating her 90th birthday.

Marie Ronald was crossing Queen Street with her rollator – a wheeled walker which she also used to carry her shopping – from her flat in nearby Wilshere Court at around 12.45pm on December 29, 2015, when a black Hyundai collided with her.

The 89-year-old was taken to the Lister Hospital, but a CT scan revealed she had bleeding on the brain caused by a fractured skull.

Despite a neurosurgeon consulting with specialists at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, it was decided because of her age she was not suitable for surgery.

The Lambeth-born great-grandmother was offered palliative care and died surrounded by her family on January 2, 2016.

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Her daughters – Suzanne Fitch, Denise West and Carol Wilshire – spoke with the Comet at The Old Courthouse in Hatfield, after coroner Geoffrey Sullivan ruled on Tuesday their mother had died of a haemorrhage caused by a hairline fracture of the skull sustained in the collision.

They said: “Mum was amazing. She loved life and was vivacious.

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“She was excited about her plans to celebrate her 90th birthday with her family.

“She had 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren and was much loved by everyone. Our lives have been devastated by her death, it’s a huge loss to us all.”

Donna Muir, the driver of the car, did not attend the inquest hearing.

A doctor’s note was provided saying she had suffered post-traumatic-stress disorder since the accident and had trouble sleeping.

She was quoted at the scene of the accident saying: “I had to pull out quickly due to the speed of the cars [driving along Queen Street]. I had to pull out quickly. What happened?”

Tests for alcohol came back negative and she was proved not to be using her mobile after police seized it.

However, Mrs Finch expressed regret Ms Muir had not contacted the family to express remorse at the death of her mum.

Mrs Finch said: “We are disappointed she didn’t attend. It was never about being vindictive. Our biggest hurt is she has showed no remorse.

“We would have appreciated it if she had expressed remorse. But she hasn’t.”

The coroner heard how some marks on the car where it had made contact with Mrs Ronald’s rollator were wiped clean at the scene by Mrs Muir and her husband, but the action weren’t deemed to have materially affected police investigations.

Mrs Muir also declined to answer police questions when she was formally interviewed.

Two witness statements were read out to the family during the hearing which described the aftermath of the collision.

One said: “I saw [Mrs Ronald] lying in the road. I saw her trolley rolling slowly across the road.”

Despite extensive tests and research conducted by police traffic collision experts they were unable to determine if the sunlight on the day of the collision played any part in what happened. There was no CCTV footage showing the collision, nor were there any direct eyewitnesses.

Concluding, Coroner Sullivan told the family: “Allow me to offer my condolences at your loss.”

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