Mum pushed daughters to safety before tragedy

An eyewitness has described the horrifying moment a mother was dragged under the wheels of a skip lorry after pushing her daughters to safety

The 37-year-old mum of two was hit as she crossed Whyke Road near to the junction with Cleveland Road in Chichester on Thursday at 9am while doing the school run to nearby Rumboldswhyke Infants School.

She bravely pushed her two daughters, aged three and five, who were on their scooters, out of the way of the skip lorry before she was dragged at a slow speed up the street.

Greg Cummins saw the accident from his relative’s bedroom window where he was helping to fix a curtain rail.

The 31-year-old from Southampton said: “If there was a lollipop lady there, or a pedestrian crossing, it wouldn’t have happened.

“He wasn’t doing more than five miles an hour. He could not have done anything about it.

“It was an unfortunate accident that should never have happened.”

He said he saw the woman crossing the road in front of the lorry while it was stationary, as the car in front was stopped to let parents cross the road.

As the car moved on, so did the lorry – which is when the woman became trapped.

“She pushed the kids out of the way,” he said. “The lorry dragged her ten to 15 metres forward.

“I think it’s great the kids are fine, and I hope she is alright.”

Two local churches are doing all they can to offer support for the family and community.

Father Stuart Craddock, rector at St George’s Church in Cleveland Road, said the incident had shocked the whole community.

“Close relations exist between St George’s Church and Rumboldswhyke School near to which the accident occurred.

“Both immediate and ongoing support has been offered to the family affected, as well as the children and other witnesses at the scene of the accident.

“The life-changing nature of the incident will have a profound impact on the family, and the people of St George’s Church and the wider church community are keen to respond to whatever short, medium and long-term needs the family may have, in accordance with their requests and timescale.

“Our thoughts and prayers will be very much with the family in the weeks and months ahead.”

Meanwhile at Revelation Church, which meets at The Venue in Spur Road, Pastor Dan Slatter said they prayed for the family at their Sunday service.

Mr Slatter, whose children also go to the Rumboldswhyke school, said: “I think something needs to be done. It’s one of the busiest roads in Chichester and my opinion would be that cars subconsciously, or consciously, speed up because of the level crossing.

“I could not speak highly enough of the school, they have been amazing in this situation.”

Fire and rescue crews used specialist lifting equipment to release the woman from underneath the vehicle, before she was flown by Sussex and Kent Air Ambulance to Southampton General Hospital where she is reported to be in a stable condition with serious but not life-threatening leg injuries.

One of the girls received slight grazing, but neither needed hospital treatment. The lorry driver was unharmed.

Police closed the road from 9am until early afternoon while they carried out their investigations. Anyone who saw the incident should contact Sussex Police by calling 101 and quoting Operation Bass.