Concerns raised by coroner after woman dies following Padiham bus stop fall

A coroner has made recommendations to Lancashire County Council to 'prevent further deaths' after the tragic death of a woman who fell from a Padiham bus stop.

Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 4:13 pm
The bus stop in Burnley Road, Padiham. Google streetview

Freda Mason (67) died in hospital on July 29th, 2018, three days after falling backwards through a bus shelter, that was missing a pane of glass. The glass was believed to have been missing for around three months.

Following an inquest into her death on April 9th, Simon Jones, Assistant Coroner for Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen, has raised concerns with the county council over the maintenance of the bus stop at the junction of Burnley Road and Victoria Street, Padiham.

He said: "During the course of the inquest the evidence revealed matters giving rise to concern. In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken."

Mr Jones then raised a concern that the county council currently only maintains bus shelters using a process whereby complaints are made by third parties.

The Coroner described this as a "reactive process" as LCC does not operate an inspection system where it views the bus shelters. This means that unless a third party notifies LCC of a problem, it has no knowledge of it and cannot respond/repair.

The coroner added: "In my opinion a more pro-active system of anticipating necessary repairs could prevent future deaths; LCC has the power to take further additional steps to ensure that problems requiring repair are brought to its attention immediately – whether by implementing a regime of inspection or by ensuring that those who use/visit the shelters, including bus drivers and inspectors, are required or encouraged to notify LCC of any problem which needs attention."

The conclusion of the inquest was that Freda Mason died an accidental death.

Mrs Mason suffered from a number of underlying conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and osteoporosis, and had sustained a number of fragility fractures including fractures to her left humerus and to her vertebrae in 2017.

Following her fall from the bus stop she was found to have sustained multiple rib fractures. Surgical intervention and invasive ventilation could not be provided, due to her underlying conditions, and her respiratory function was severely compromised.

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: "Our thoughts are with the family following this tragic accident. We have already acted upon the coroner's concerns and are going even further to ensure bus shelters are regularly inspected and any issues brought to our attention.

"We are currently in the process of tendering a contract for a service provider to install, maintain, monitor and repair our bus shelters as part of a comprehensive overhaul and upgrade programme throughout the county.

"This contract will allow us to provide a consistent monitoring regime, where every shelter is checked every six weeks for any damage, with a structural assessment every twelve months.

"We expect this contract to begin later this year, however in the interim we have inspected all of our bus shelters and will continue to check them when visiting to update bus timetables, and have asked bus operators to instruct their drivers to report any damage. We have also updated notices asking people to use our Report It system to inform us of any damage, making them much more prominent."