Witnesses tell of ‘happy-go-lucky’ dad’s 999 tragedy

CRASH SCENE ... Whiteleas Way, South Shields, where the collision took place. Below, Vincent Gibson.

CRASH SCENE ... Whiteleas Way, South Shields, where the collision took place. Below, Vincent Gibson.

WITNESSES have told an inquest of the moment a South Tyneside man was hit by a police car and died.

Vincent Gibson, of Shaw Avenue, Biddick Hall, was hit by the car – which was on an emergency call – in Whiteleas Way, South Shields, on January 7, 2012.

The 50-year-old died from multiple injuries, and an inquest, led by South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney, is being held at the Moot Hall, Newcastle.

Mr Gibson was pronounced dead at South Tyneside District Hospital, and the tragedy is subject to an investigation by Durham Constabulary, overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

At the hearing yesterday, the coroner and jury members heard evidence from a number of people who had been present when the accident happened.

Friends Jack Bushell, Connor Smith and Liam Pitcher were walking nearby when the tragedy happened.

The teenagers, all from South Shields, walked from Galsworthy Road towards Nevinson Avenue, using a crossing on Whiteleas Way.

They said it was about 10.30pm when they saw the flashing lights and heard the sirens of two approaching police cars.

Mr Smith, 17, a student, said: “I first noticed the police cars when I stood in the middle of the road, on the island.

“The blue flashing lights and the sirens were on. The cars were coming towards us so we crossed the road quickly.

“I heard a bang, and when I looked round, the police cars had stopped and there was a man on the road. We didn’t get any closer.”

Christopher Hay was in a taxi when the collision happened.

His cab, driven by Ian Stephen, pulled to the side of the road to allow the police cars to get past.

He said the flashing lights and siren were on, but neither himself or the driver witnessed the crash.

Bus driver Gary Cane, from South Shields, was driving his Stagecoach vehicle in Whiteleas Way at the time of the crash.

He told the hearing he had pulled into a bus stop, just off the junction with John Reid Road, at 10.23pm and, as he began to pull away, he noticed the police cars coming towards him.

He said the front car moved on to the wrong side of the road to go past him, but couldn’t recall if the second one had done the same.

The inquest heard earlier that after father-of-two Mr Gibson returned from the Newcastle match, he called into the White Ensign pub in King George Road.

Former staff member Carla Wood, from Sunderland, said Mr Gibson had just one drink, didn’t seem to be intoxicated and had arrived at 9.10pm, leaving about 40 minutes later.

A former work colleague of Mr Gibson’s, Stan Harwood, from South Shields, spoke to him in the pub.

He said they chatted about the football, and that Mr Gibson was “just a happy-go-lucky bloke”. He said Mr Gibson did not seem drunk.

* The hearing continues tomorrow.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki


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