Inquest Into Death Of 4 Year Old

17 April 2012, 11:28 | Updated: 17 April 2012, 11:34

A 4 year old girl playing hide and seek was fatally injured when she was run over by her mother's reversing car.

Olivia Hicks could not be seen by her mum Kelly who thought she had run into her grandmother's home.

The little girl was trapped underneath the Ford Focus for nearly an hour before being freed by firefighters.

An inquest in Bedford has heard that an air ambulance took her to hospital where she died five days later from brain damage.

The tragedy happened when Mrs Quigley-Hicks reversed down the driveway at her mother Catherine's semi detached home in Coppice Mead, Biggleswade, Beds., at 8.30 in the morning of Monday February 20.

Olivia was anaesthetised at the scene by paramedics. Firefighters stabilised the car and used airbags to free her.  She was then flown to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, where she died five days later on February 25.

Mrs Quigley-Hicks, and her husband Graham lived with Olivia nearby to the scene of the accident in London Road, Biggleswade.
They were not at the brief inquest hearing.

The cause of death was "catastrophic, irreversible brain injury." A secondary cause was given as "injuries sustained in a road accident."

Coroner's Officer Graham Wright told the hearing: "The mother dropped her daughter off with her grandmother. The grandmother removed the child from the car and, unseen, the child hid behind the car playing hide and seek. The grandmother spoke to her daughter and assumed Olivia had gone inside. Her mother reversed the car and Olivia was trapped underneath."

Forensic Collision Investigator PC Alan Kemp said Mrs Quigley-Hicks' blue Ford Focus 1600 C-MAX was in good working order.  It was daylight and clear and dry when the tragedy happened.

When PC Kemp arrived at the scene about an hour afterwards, he saw Olivia's pink padded anorak on the ground, having been removed by the paramedics. There were marks on the rear bumper of the car.

PC Kemp said:  "The marks on the rear bumper are consistent with striking Olivia. It moved less than 3 metres. If Olivia was close to the rear of the car, she would be completely out of sight of the driver.  She toppled as the car passed over her and the weight of the car came upon Olivia."

Coroner David Morris said:  "As the car came down the slope, it compressed onto her.  If driveway it had been level it might have passed over her."

The Bedfordshire Coroner recorded the verdict that Olivia died from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident.

In a statement, Olivia's family said:  "Olivia was a cheeky, chatty and clever little girl who has left us, our family, friends and everyone who knew her, with amazing memories that will never fade.  We miss her every day. We would like to thank the emergency services, the East Anglian Air Ambulance and Addenbrookes Hospital for the care they gave to Olivia - giving her the best chance possible. We are also grateful to the Sick Children's Trust for giving us a place to stay only minutes away from Olivia's bedside while she was being treated and we will be supporting the trust's fantastic work in Olivia's memory."

Chris Greenhall, the Head Teacher of Southlands Lower School in Biggleswade, where Olivia was a pupil, said the school hopes to create a lasting tribute to her.