Kiara's father tells of horror

A FATHER has told of the horrifying moment he saw his five-year-old daughter struck and killed in a freak road accident.Colin Mann watched helplessly as his daughter, Kiara Stevenson-Mann, lost control of her mountain bike after hitting a pedestrian and veered into the path of an oncoming coach.

A FATHER has told of the horrifying moment he saw his five-year-old daughter struck and killed in a freak road accident.

Colin Mann watched helplessly as his daughter, Kiara Stevenson-Mann, lost control of her mountain bike after hitting a pedestrian and veered into the path of an oncoming coach.

Kiara suffered severe head injuries in the crash, which happened in Landseer Road, Ipswich, on August 14 this year, and died almost instantly.

An inquest heard yesterday the coach, which belonged to John Rannoch Foods, had dangerous defects and had been taken off the road after the crash.

But greater Suffolk coroner, Dr Peter Dean, said the vehicle's faults had not contributed to the fatal collision and recorded a verdict of accidental death.

In a statement read to the inquest, Mr Mann, of Ireland Road, Ipswich, told how he, Kiara, and his younger daughter, Georgia, three, had been on a cycling trip to shops in Reynolds Road at about 12.30pm.

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Georgia was sitting on the crossbar of Mr Mann's bicycle as they rode along the pavement at a slow speed and Kiara was pedalling her own mountain bike.

Mr Mann said they had been cycling side-by-side, but had gone into single file, with him moving ahead, to avoid a pedestrian.

"I had just got past the pedestrian and looked over my left shoulder. I saw Kiara ride her cycle into the leg of the pedestrian and saw her lose control and fall towards the road, as the footpath seems to slope in that direction," he added in his statement.

"I then saw her go under the coach and she was thrown out of the rear. I saw my daughter had suffered severe injuries. I screamed for help.

"I was shaking and I was unable to press the buttons on my mobile phone to call for help. Due to the injuries I could see, I feared for the worst."

Mr Mann said Kiara had been "no more than an arm's length away" during the entire journey and added: "I am unable to say why she went into the pedestrian's leg. She was clever on her cycle. I just don't know how the accident occurred."

The Paxton Supreme coach was picking up workers of poultry producer John Rannoch Foods, which is based at Haughley Park, near Stowmarket.

Its driver, Robin Whiskin, said he had been travelling at between 20mph and 25mph on Landseer Road on the day, in the opposite direction to Mr Mann and his daughters.

In a statement read to the inquest, he told of hearing a thud against the side of the coach and stopping the vehicle to find Kiara's motionless body.

The inquest was told Mr Whiskin was not being prosecuted for the accident and the coach had been issued with a prohibition order – taking it off the road – from an examination following the accident that had found defects, including loose flooring.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Mann said: "I feel the coach shouldn't have been on the road, but we're not taking it any further."

Richard Cooper, managing director of John Rannoch Foods, said: "Our vehicles are maintained by a reputable outside third party and the coach in question was maintained within regular maintenance schedules.

"We treat safety very seriously and the defects would have been picked up at the next service. We did everything we could realistically be expected to do."

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