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Death road plea

PUBLISHED: 18:01 16 April 2008 | UPDATED: 09:39 23 August 2010

Dartford
15-04-08
Valerie Hobbs campaigning for a barrier where her son was killed

Dartford 15-04-08 Valerie Hobbs campaigning for a barrier where her son was killed

THE bus driver who killed a boy on his way to school should not be held responsible for his death, according to the 11-year-old s grieving mother. Valerie Hobbs, 49, of Brent Lane, Dartford, made the emotional plea as she visited the spot where her son

YOUNG BOY: Died tragically

THE bus driver who killed a boy on his way to school should not be "held responsible" for his death, according to the 11-year-old's grieving mother.

Valerie Hobbs, 49, of Brent Lane, Dartford, made the emotional plea as she visited the spot where her son died just days after an inquest ruled his death was 'accidental'.

Last week Fastrack bus driver Josephine Pollard, of Rural Vale, Northfleet, sobbed at Dartford Coroners Court as her testimony about the tragic death of Matthew Hobbs (pictured right) was read.

He was killed at 7.15am on January 9 at the corner of Darenth Road and Princes Road, Dartford.

The court heard how Mrs Pollard's view of Matthew was obscured seconds before impact as another bus crossed at the same time.

She said: "We do feel for her. It is not her personal fault but it is the system she has been allowed to operate in. It is the layout of the junction, because of the lack of safety barriers and the way the buses pass each other at the same time, the bus driver is quite blind. She cannot be held responsible."

During an inquest held at Dartford Coroners Court last Wednesday, coroner Roger Hatch returned a verdict of accidental death labelling the incident "tragic and unfortunate."

Matthew's distressed family also heard how he was hit as he attempted to cross the road outside of the pedestrian crossing area.

Speaking at the scene of his death, Mrs Hobbs added: "The accident has happened because there's a fault and we have got to find the best way to rectify it so it doesn't happen again. My children did what they did as the barriers aren't where they should be. I want a barrier all the way around the corner and I don't what there to be any gaps that children can squeeze through. It's not asking for much, is it? I will do all I can to make sure this happens."

This week Mrs Hobbs said she intended to hold talks with Dartford Borough Council and Arriva, who operate Fastrack, to seek safety improvements to barriers at the crossing. Examining officer PC Dave Kirk, of Kent Police, said video evidence showed that the bus had stopped at the junction and was being driven responsibly. He also stated that due to the two buses crossing at the junction that it may not have been possible for the driver to have seen Matthew as he crossed the road.

An Arriva spokesman said: "We welcome any measures which improve road safety and we wish Mrs Hobbs well with her campaign to have additional railings installed at the junction where the tragedy happened."

Mrs Pollard was too distressed to speak to the Reporter about the accident.

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