A motorist may have been swigging from a flask of tea when her car veered off the road, hitting and killing a pedestrian, a court was told.
Jan Westney, aged 53, was walking to work at Meadowhall from her home in Wincobank when she was struck on Tyler Street at 7.20am on July 4 last year.
She had set out early to go for coffee and breakfast before starting her shift at Primark.
She was knocked 15ft down a railway embankment – and it took 30 minutes for firefighters to bring her up to the road before treatment could begin.
Grazyna Olczak, aged 49, of Nottingham Street, Burngreave, who was driving the green Toyota Yaris car which struck Jan, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at Sheffield Crown Court.
Prosecutors said a still-warm flask of tea was found in the passenger footwell of Olczak’s car, though they ‘could not categorically say’ she had been drinking from it when losing control.
Judge Simon Lawler QC sentenced Olczak to a 12-month suspended jail term, 250 hours’ community service and a four-year driving ban.
Jan, who lived with her partner of 20 years Mark Lincoln, had four sons – Lee, Tony, Joe and Jack – and a granddaughter, Mia.
South Yorkshire Police said the case served as a warning to motorists about the dangers of being distracted from the road.
A spokeswoman said: “If you take your eyes off the road for a split-second, the consequences can be devastating.”
Nephew Sam O’Maison, aged 21, one of Brendan Ingle’s professional boxers, said his aunt was ‘a caring and dedicated family woman’.
“My aunt had suffered chest injuries and it is believed a heart attack,” he said. “Had there been something to stop her going down the embankment, you wonder whether her life could have been saved through quicker treatment.
“There needs to be a speed camera or a flashing speed indicator to slow traffic down, and a wall or fence between the pavement and embankment, otherwise another tragedy could happen.”
Bridget Ingle, a family friend, said after the case: “I think it’s a sad situation all round. There are lives that have been ruined because of an accident.
“The defendant is never going to forget when happened, and nothing is going to bring Jan back.”
Bridget, a community volunteer in Wincobank, said people remain concerned about speeding traffic on Tyler Street.
“Better road safety measures are still needed on that stretch of road,” she added.
Residents in the area want action to ensure drivers stick to the 30mph limit - although there is no suggestion speed was a factor in Jan’s death - and barriers at the side of the road above the embankment down which she was thrown.