A pedestrian died after being hit by a police car on a ‘Grade One emergency call’ in pursuit of a suspected disqualified driver.
James Sutton, 46, of Silchester Road, died on the A259 in White Rock on the evening of March 12, following the accident.
A jury inquest into his death began today (Monday, May 18) at Eastbourne Town Hall.
Ronald Lamb, who was driving east along the A259 at the time of the accident, said: “I noticed blue flashing lights in my rear view mirror.
“The police car over took me and I could see a figure on the left hand side. He was running very fast. He was hit by the by the car. He went up in the air and came down and him the road.
“The police car went past me and the deceased was hit.”
PC Matt Morris was driving a response car with Special Constable Samantha Greenhalf in the passenger seat when PC Neil Gibson alerted him to a black BMW, which had been flagged up because of the number plate.
“There was a message over the radio of a suspected disqualified driver,” Special Constable Greenhalf told the jury.
“We put blue lights on at Bexhill. We carried along the seafront. I know PC Morris told the control room he would assist. Some traffic was pulling over for us to get past.”
She said she was trying to get the car airwave radio to work when she heard a loud noise and saw the windscreen had been ‘pushed’ in.
“I know that we had stopped. I heard Matt say we had hit a pedestrian,” she added.
“I don’t recall the sirens being on at the time.”
PC Gibson said he alerted PC Morris to the call as he believed there was ‘potentially an offence being committed’ by the BMW driver.
He said: “The vehicle needed to be stopped. I believed at the time that was the best course of action to take.”
The jury heard the black BMW was stopped in Surrey later that evening by PC Chris Schultze. The driver, whose car was seized, was found to be driving with no insurance and could not produce paper evidence of his provisional driving license.
Mr Sutton had spent part of the day on the beach with his friend Walter Hilden-Cull, who he went to secondary school with in Hailsham.
Mr Hilden-Cull said before Mr Sutton’s death he had seen him ‘walking to the seafront’.
Alan Craze, coroner for East Sussex, read his statement to the court.
He said: “I think he had just got a new flat. We parted saying I would meet him the following morning at the Sea View. He was walking at a normal pace. He was no more drunk than he had been at any other point that day.”
Dr Andrew Rainey, pathologist at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, said Mr Sutton died of multiple injuries including a fracture to his skull.
Blood test results from toxicologist Dr Andrew Smith revealed Mr Sutton had alcohol of 330mg per 100ml of blood in his system - a ‘level consistent with extreme drunkenness’.
The hearing into Mr Sutton’s death continues.