Accident verdict is given on tragic scooter victim

PUBLISHED: 17:26 27 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:12 11 August 2010

A CORONER has described the death of a fiercely independent 94-year old widow mown down by a mobility scooter, as tragic. Margaret Quarrell was doing her Christmas shopping in Barking Market with her daughter when the accident happened on December 2

A CORONER has described the death of a 'fiercely independent' 94-year old widow mown down by a mobility scooter, as 'tragic.'

Margaret Quarrell was doing her Christmas shopping in Barking Market with her daughter when the accident happened on December 23, 2006.

Manageress of Harvey's greengrocers, Lesley Bownes, witnessed the incident, which took place outside the shop at around 11.30am.

She told Walthamstow Coroner's Court: "I saw a man on a mobility scooter bash into a bench and a clothing stall before speeding off again.

"Margaret had her back to him and he ran into her. She didn't see him coming. There was no warning."

The rider asked Mrs Quarrell if she was alright, but then drove off on his scooter and has not been seen in the market since.

Mrs Bownes described the man as around 70, with yellowy-grey hair and an Eastern European accent.

Mrs Quarrell broke her right hip and ankle in the accident,along with several bones in her right knee.

She was taken to Queen's Hospital in Romford where she had an operation to have a prosthetic hip fitted on Christmas Day .

She was transferred to Barking Hospital for recovery, where she contracted the superbug, MRSA.

In March it was found that pus was coming from the wound on her hip, which had previously been healing well, and she was sent back to Queen's.

The court heard that it then took four weeks for the hospital to conduct a sonogram test to discover the severity of the infection.

Mrs Quarrell's consultant explained to the court that he had been on holiday at the time, and admitted that continuity of care at the hospital needed improvement.

He said that due to Mrs Quarrell contracting MRSA, the test could only be carried out at the end of the working day when no other patients were expected.

The sonogram eventually showed that the prosthetic hip joint was badly infected, and the prosthesis was removed.

But Mrs Quarrell's condition continued to deteriorate, and she died on May 27, 2007. A post mortem showed the she had died of multiple organ failure.

Det Sgt Mark Thomas, who investigated the incident, told the court that there had been a large-scale hunt for the scooter driver.

However, he said there were more than 15,000 mobility scooters in the borough, and there were no regulations to cover who could drive one.

Coroner, Dr Elizabeth Stearns said she had considered a verdict of manslaughter by gross misconduct, but felt that she could not make that ruling without hearing testimony from the driver.

She recorded a verdict of death by accident.

Outside the court, Mrs Quarrell's daughter, Carole Corrigan, said: "The verdict is what we expected, but I'm glad the coroner brought up the fact that it could have been manslaughter.

"It helps to highlight the fact that there need to be rules and regulations brought in to monitor the use of mobility scooters. I miss my mother greatly and we just want to remember her as she was.

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