Inquest Resumes Into Tourists Death

An inquest will resume today into the death of a German tourist who was killed when she wandered on to a motorway from a services area.

An elderly German tourist was described as playing ''Russian roulette with traffic'' moments before she was hit by a car in the middle lane of a motorway.

Sigrid Schmitz, 79, was seen walking across the southbound carriageway of the M3 at Fleet Services in Hampshire by motorists shortly before she was hit by a Volkswagen Passat on the northbound section just after 7pm on March 22.

Police could find no explanation why Mrs Schmitz would be walking across the motorway when she had been part of a coach party that stopped for a comfort break on the southbound services.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, North Hampshire coroner Andrew Bradley said the death was strange. He said the dead woman had a brain atrophy which could have caused some confusion, but added that was only anecdotal.

The driver of the silver Passat, Jamie Healy, 22, from Basingstoke, did not see Mrs Schmitz as the impact took place at 70mph in the middle lane in darkness. There was no way he could have avoided the collision, and she suffered massive injuries.

His front seat passenger Aaron Fagan, 22, told the hearing in Alton he had been texting when he looked up.

''I saw a pedestrian in the middle lane just ahead of us coming from the central reservation towards Fleet Services and walking very slowly towards the hard shoulder with no urgency.

''We collided with the elderly person on the passenger side. Jamie pulled over on to the hard shoulder and called 999.''

Mr Healy told the hearing that as they pulled up there was a lot of ''trauma and screaming'' and they called 999.

''No one knew what had happened. Aaron said we had hit a person but I said, 'That's ridiculous, we have hit a deer or something'.''

Another driver, Christopher Savage, saw Mrs Schmitz on the southbound carriageway moments before the accident. He said he saw someone ''sprightly'' walking across the carriageway and she was in the middle lane.

He missed the person and another car also just managed to miss her.

''This person was walking straight ahead. It's best to describe it as someone playing Russian roulette with the traffic,'' he said in a statement.

Mrs Schmitz, from Remscheid in north-western Germany, had become separated from the coach party for an unknown reason. The coach waited for an hour before leaving.

There was a foot bridge linking the services on both sides of the motorway, the hearing was told.

The coach had been heading towards Southampton when it had pulled into the services for the comfort break.