A highflying executive was run over and killed moments after leaving her own birthday party, an inquest heard.
Tragic City headhunter Laura Murray-Woodford fell under the wheels of the three-and-a-half tonne truck as she tried to cross Ludgate Hill, near City Thameslink Station in central London, the hearing was told.
The newlywed recruitment adviser for education charity City and Guilds had been celebrating her 32nd birthday in All Bar One with colleagues before leaving to catch a train home just after 10pm.
Before leaving she had texted her husband of just six months, Ben Kelly-Taylor, to tell him she would be “leaving soon” to catch a train home to Croydon.
City of London Coroner’s Court head she was walking on the pavement when she turned suddenly to cross the road, but stumbled and fell under the wheels of the oncoming van.
Mr Kelly-Taylor became worried when he didn’t hear from his wife for over an hour and called her, only to have a police officer answer her phone and tell him she had been hit by the van.
She was taken to the Royal London Hospital where she went into cardiac arrest and pronounced dead in the early hours of October 21, with the cause of death given as multiple chest injuries
The inquest head truck driver truck Edwin Osorio-Mena was slowing down as he drove up the road towards St Paul’s Cathedral, and said he didn’t see Ms Murray-Woodford until just before the fatal collision.
Giving evidence through a Spanish interpreter, he said: “I was going very slow and I heard a bang to the side of the van.
“I thought it was something to do with my mirror.
“If it was something in front of me I would have seen it. If she had been in front of me I could have braked, but I didn’t see her. I just heard a bang and that is why I stopped.
“I thought I had gone over a bag on the road or a box.”
The Spanish national, who has been driving vans for 25 years, got out to check the front of the vehicle and couldn’t see anything, before getting back in.
He said: “I was about to accelerate and then I heard a noise of the lady, so I got out and circled the vehicle completely and that’s when I saw her.
“The first time I saw her was when she was on the floor. If I had seen her I swear to God I would have avoided that accident.”
The van was traveling at around 5mph and the driver was not using his mobile phone at the time, the inquest heard.
The inquest also heard a statement from chef Andrew Harper who was walking nearby.
He said: “I heard a female scream in the direction of St Paul’s Cathedral, and looked up and saw a truck and a lady lying in the road.
“I saw the driver jump out and go round to her.
“I called 999 and I asked her her name and she said it was Laura.
“I didn’t see any blood, but she said she had pain in her chest.
“I kept reassuring her, telling her everything would be okay, and I held her hand. She squeezed it back.”
PC Rachel Cook, of City of London Police, said: “She was speaking to me and she told me the wheels of the truck had gone over her chest and abdomen area.”
She added: “I got her bag and her phone and there was an incoming call which turned out to be her husband.
“I answered and I was able to speak to her husband and update him as to what had happened.”
The inquest heard CCTV footage from the area showed Laura walking along the pavement before turning suddenly and falling into the road.
Investigating officer PC Timothy Harryman said he saw at the scene some unevenness on the road surface which may have caused her to stumble.
Senior Coroner Alison Hewitt gave cause of death as a road traffic collision, and said an important factor was that the incident “happened quite quickly”.
She said: “She was walking down the pavement and she decided to cross the road.
“Why? It seems to me perhaps because the vehicle had slowed, and it may have seemed it was a safe opportunity for her to cross the road.
“Why did she fall? We have heard in evidence there was some unevenness in the road surface, but it was not dramatic.
“She had been out celebrating her birthday, but I don’t think we can reach a conclusion that was directly relevant here, and that has not been the evidence at all.”
She added: “This is a terrible and tragic set of circumstances and it is awful that is should have happened.
“It was a series of events. Having walked along the pavement she turned to cross, probably thinking it was safe to do so because the vehicle had slowed down, and, as she stepped into the road, she fell to the ground and the vehicle then went over her, with the driver having not seen her.”
Ms Murray-Woodford had a degree in psychology from Coventry University and a masters from the University of East London, and had qualified as an occupational therapist.
She had worked in Australia as well as London, including spells with Macmillan Cancer Support and the British Heart Foundation.
She used to coach cheerleading and had travelled the world as part of Ascension Eagles, a cheerleading group based at a church in Newham, east London.
Giving a short tribute during the inquest, her husband said: “She was a beautiful person – a positive energy, very gracious and compassionate.
“We all knew her in our own way and she touched us all and made us better people. I think of every moment I had with her.”