Mum killed in horror crash during maternity leave ‘had whole life ahead of her’

Lauren Johnson, 33, was killed after a speeding Toyota Auris driven by an elderly man mounted the pavement and hit her, leaving her family devastated

A mum-of-two on maternity leave was killed in a horrific smash with her “whole life ahead of her”, a court has been told.

Lauren Johnson, 33, was killed after a speeding Toyota Auris driven by 72-year-old George Steele mounted the pavement and hit her on October 28, 2016, in Crosby.

Witnesses said the car was going around 50mph in a 20mph zone, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Appearing via video link, Mr Steele’s wife Jacqueline, who was a passenger at the time of the incident, told an inquest into Lauren’s death that the the pair were on their way to the Co-op, travelling along Eshe Road.

She said the car “suddenly started speeding up” and as she asked her husband to slow down, they hit a nearby van

Mrs Steele told the hearing her husband “didn’t have any reaction” and was holding the wheel, staring straight ahead as the “car just kept going fast.”

She added she “covered her eyes” as she “knew he wasn’t going to stop” before they collided with what she thought at the time was railings.

When asked by coroner David Lewis, Mrs Steele said her husband “didn’t react” and his behaviour was unusual like he had a “funny turn”.

There was a suggestion that Mr Steele could have mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake, but Mrs Steele said she didn’t think that was the case.

She said she didn’t find out they had hit someone until she turned on the TV that night, adding: “It was awful.”

Witness Joseph Mangan, attending the inquest, said he was walking to the bus stop that morning when he saw the car, which was travelling around 50mph before hitting a 20mph speed sign.

Tributes left at the scene of the crash
He told the hearing it “lifted the car up” and took the barrier with it, “absolutely destroying it”.

He added that he saw Lauren, who had been walking ahead of him moments before, around 35 yards away, lying in the floor and the “barrier had been demolished”.

Another witness Mr Robert Russell told the hearing that from a distance he saw what he thought was “rags thrown in the air”, later confirmed to be a pedestrian.

The hearing heard evidence from a student paramedic at the time, John Bateman, who said Mr Steele was “disoriented” which he described as “strange”.

Mr Bateman said the driver was focusing on “trivial things”, such as where his wife and dog were, and seemed to be in a “daze” as if he “did not know what was going on”.

Concerns were raised over whether Mr Steele had suffered a medical episode of some kind as his mannerisms suggested he was “confused and disoriented”.

The hearing heard how at the time, the student paramedic believed the husband and wife “did not realise they had hit a pedestrian.”

In a statement on behalf of Lauren’s family, mum Mrs McGurgan said: “That day will live with our families forever.”

She added Lauren had a “loving husband and two beautiful children” and was off “enjoying her maternity when she was killed”.

She added: “Lauren had a bubbly personality, was always singing and dancing and loved clothes and make up

“Lauren had her whole life and career ahead of her. Lauren has missed so much over the last five years. We all miss her every day.

“She will never get to see her children leave school, hopefully go to university and graduate. She will never see them get married.”

The hearing heard how the incident has had an “immeasurable effect on their lives” and Lauren, who was a “beautiful and caring’ woman, can “never be replaced”.

Mrs McGurgan said: “We have lost our beautiful daughter, our only daughter, our eldest child, our friend.”

Coroner David Lewis said: “I’m very sorry it’s taken as long as it has for this matter to come before this court. It’s a matter of great regret it’s taken this long.”

He added he was “personally sorry” for the family’s “tragic loss”.