Parked vehicle obstructed view for driver and man trying to cross the road
During an inquest earlier this month, accident reconstructionist Collin Redden told the Coroner’s Jury of the recommendation he had made following the death of pedestrian Michael Charles Edgington during the 2010 Christmas season.
Mr. Edgington, 26, died of acute blunt force trauma after he was struck by a van on West Bay Road shortly before 1am on Saturday, 18 December 2010. The incident occurred when he tried to cross from the sea side in the area of Regal Beach Club condominiums to the inland side of the road.
Mr. Redden said no vehicles should be permitted to park inside the yellow lines on the hard shoulder beside Regal Beach condos, as this obstructed the view of drivers exiting into West Bay Road. “There is also significant pedestrian traffic on both sides of the road in this area due to the restaurants and bars and night clubs, especially on weekend nights,” he said.
The jury had access to photos of the scene. Mr. Redden said the height of the vehicle, a Jeep, was 6 feet 2 inches and would have obstructed the view of the driver and pedestrians.
Mr. Redden explained that the point of impact was 7 feet from the yellow line on the side of the road. Charts of walking velocity showed that a man 30 years old would travel 5.8 feet per second. Running or walking briskly, Mr. Edgington would have covered 7 feet in less than one second. The highest time estimate was 1.5 seconds.
Mr. Redden referred to studies showing that a qualified driver who is sober and alert takes 2.5 seconds to perceive and react to a hazard at night. Speaking of the driver, Mr. Redden concluded, “He didn’t have time to perceive and react.” Daylight reaction time would have been 1.5 seconds. The expert also showed photographs and spoke about lighting in the area.
Alcohol was involved, jurors heard. The driver, Colin Magregor Jones, was found to have a blood/alcohol reading of .187. The legal limit in the Cayman Islands is .100. On 14 December, 2011, he was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, fined $300 and disqualified from driving for 15 months.
Mr. Edgington’s blood/alcohol level was .119. Drug screens were negative.
Mr. Jones, who had been headed toward West Bay, remained at the scene. He told officers in his interview, “When I saw him that was the same time the vehicle hit him.”
According to witness statements read into evidence, Mr. Edgington had been employed with PricewaterhouseCoopers as an accountant since October or November. He attended a Christmas dinner with colleagues at Caribbean Club that Friday night, then they took a taxi to Aqua Beach. One woman said she knew that Mr. Edgington lived up the road from Aqua Beach and when a group was out for an evening, he would just leave sometimes without anyone knowing.
Several people who were in the area said they saw the incident. They gave various estimates of the van’s speed, but none thought the driver was exceeding the speed limit of 40 miles per hour.
The autopsy report by pathologist Cheryl Reichert included the fact that Mr. Edgington’s mother had been contacted in England and she had said there were no underlying medical conditions that might have contributed to her son’s accident. Specifically, there was no history of epilepsy.
Attorney Nicholas Hoffman attended the inquest and asked questions on behalf of Mr. Edgington’s family.
In summarising the evidence, Queen’s Coroner Valdis Foldats told jurors they had a limited but important role. It was not part of their duty to find a detailed narrative of events or look into criminal matters or think in terms of who might sue whom.
“What we did was get as much evidence as we could into the public forum,” he said. Not everything was 100 per cent clear, but that was the nature of life.
He said the expert evidence of the accident reconstructionist had raised issues for consideration. One example was, should vehicles parked in that area at night be towed away immediately?
The formal verdict of the jury was that Mr. Edgington had died by misadventure, with the physical cause of death being blunt force impact trauma of the head and neck.