Sheffield double death tragedy: Now-deceased bus driver ‘didn’t see’ pedestrian

Sheffield Bus Interchange, Pond Street. Andrew Roe
Sheffield Bus Interchange, Pond Street. Andrew Roe
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A bus driver at the end of his shift hit a pensioner in the middle of a pedestrian crossing at Sheffield Interchange - with both men dying days later.

An inquest heard driver Richard Sayles hit 68-year-old Sui Wing-Cooper at the bus station on the evening of April 22 this year – and may have faced criminal charges over the incident.

But Mr Sayles, 55, was found dead at his Rotherham home on the morning of April 25.

Mr Wing-Cooper died from his injuries in hospital later that same day.

The inquest heard Mr Wing-Cooper had been in the middle of a pedestrian crossing at Sheffield Interchange when he was hit by a First bus driven by Richard Sayles at 6.40pm on April 22 this year.

Mr Wing-Cooper was run over by the bus’ wheels and later died from his injuries at the Northern General Hospital.

PC Neil Morrell said the bus ‘could have and should have stopped’ before hitting Mr Wing-Cooper as it turned into the Interchange.

Mr Sayles, 55, was found dead at home on the morning of April 25, with Mr Wing-Cooper dying in hospital later that same day.

PC Morrell said it was ‘likely’ Mr Sayles, whose own inquest is yet to take place, would have been charged with causing death by careless driving if he was still alive.

He added: “That is with the benefit of hindsight. At the time of Mr Sayles’ death, Mr Cooper hadn’t died. Mr Sayles wouldn’t have been aware of the serious nature of the charge he would have faced.”

The Star has previously reported that Mr Wing-Cooper, who was born in Hong Kong and was living in Northern Ireland at the time of his death, had been due to face a trial at Sheffield Crown Court in July on charges of gross indecency and indecent assault relating to allegations dating back to the 1970s.

While this was not directly mentioned in open court, PC Morrell said his investigation had examined whether or not there had been ‘a deliberate act to harm himself’ but had found ‘nothing to suggest anything whatsoever’ of that nature.

The court heard the bus had not been speeding when the incident happened.

Mr Sayles had been working a split shift on the day of the day of the incident, starting working at 8am, having a break of several hours and then restarting driving shortly before 3pm.

He had been due to finish shortly after 7pm when the incident happened.

In a litigation statement given by Mr Sayles prior to his death, he estimated he had been travelling at around 5mph as he turned into the Interchange.

He said he didn’t see any pedestrians and was looking forward towards the stand where he was going to park.

He said: “I heard a noise. I thought it was a bang on the near side of the bus. I saw a man laid in the road.”

Mr Sayles said he went to help the man and asked a passenger to call emergency services.

“I tried to assist him as best I could. Things were a bit of a blur afterwards,” he said.

The court heard that moments before the incident, the bus had passed through another pedestrian crossing when someone was preparing to cross.

PC Morrell added: “What I can’t explain is why Mr Sayles didn’t see Mr Cooper.

“He was on his last journey and there was no reason for him to go into the Interchange, he could have stopped outside. But he made the decision to go into the Interchange.

“There were no intoxicants involved, no telephones or radio messages or anything that he was doing that would have taken away his concentration from driving. He just didn’t see the person.”

Assistant coroner Louise Slater recorded a narrative verdict that Mr Wing-Cooper’s death had been caused by multiple organ failure following traumatic crush injuries to his lower limbs.

She said he had died following a road traffic collision in which a bus had failed to stop at a ‘Give Way’ sign.

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Wing-Cooper’s family said their father had faced ‘false allegations’ in relation to his upcoming trial and they were confident he would have been cleared in court.

They said: “He was a fantastic dad and granddad. He was a gentleman and would do everything for everybody.”

Kevin Belfield, managing director for First South Yorkshire Ltd, said: “This was a tragic incident for all those involved. We note the comments made at the inquest and we’d like to express our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of both Mr Wing-Cooper and our driver Richard Sayles.”