A girl of ten was killed by a passenger airbag after her mother crashed while trying to help her send a text message, an inquest heard yesterday. Chloe Bunney suffered a fractured skull when the safety device in the VW Golf activated with ‘colossal force’ and smashed into her forehead.
The inquest heard that the schoolgirl was leaning forward in her seat when she asked her mother, Jolene Bunney, 30, to help her send a text message to her grandparents. But as Miss Bunney, a national account manager for a food firm, leaned over she lost control of the car which crashed into two other vehicles.
After the crash, witnesses heard Miss Bunney say: ‘It’s my fault, it’s my fault – I looked at my phone.’ A passer-by tried to revive Chloe, who was wearing a seatbelt, but she never regained consciousness. She was pronounced dead in hospital a short time later.
The court heard that although two years below the recommended age to travel in the front passenger seat, Chloe was five inches taller than the legal height of 4ft 4in for travelling alongside the driver.
The inquest, held in Carnarvon, North Wales, heard that the accident happened as mother and daughter were travelling back from a day at the popular Black Rock Sands beach, in Porthmadog, on May 29 last year. Chloe, who lived in the village of Felinheli, was using her mother’s mobile phone to text her grandparents.
‘I leaned over and looked at what she was doing,’ Miss Bunney told the hearing. ‘The next thing I felt was the side impact and the airbags went off and the car just spun. I couldn’t control it.’ Police investigators called to the scene estimated the car was travelling at between 30mph and 35mph when it veered into the path of an Audi being driven by Andrew Eardley, of Stoke-on-Trent.
It spun out of control, before hitting another vehicle.
Gordon Saynor, of North Wales police, said the airbag inflated ‘very rapidly…with a colossal force’. Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Dewi Pritchard-Jones said: ‘The sudden inflation of the airbag, impacting to the front of Chloe’s head pushed the head backwards causing the fracture which led to her death.’
Miss Bunney called for greater awareness of the potential danger of airbags, adding: ‘[Chloe’s] death has just devastated us. ‘She will always be in the thoughts and memories of all of those that met her and will be greatly missed by her family and friends.’
airbag – légzsák
fractured skull – törött koponya
colossal force – kolosszális er?
forehead – homlok
passer-by – járókel?
pronounced – kifejezett, kihangsúlyozott
impact – ütközés, lökés
spin, spun – megfordul
awareness – tudatosság