South Yorkshire girl, nine, dies after crash while 'not properly restrained’ in speeding car

A nine-year-old South Yorkshire girl who died after a crash was not properly restrained in her seat when the speeding car she was travelling in hit water on a rainy day, an inquest heard.

Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 12:11 pm

Rosie Marie Murphy was travelling with four others, including her parents and her little brother, when a three-vehicle collision occurred on January 4, 2016, on a hilly country road in Barnsley.

An inquest at Sheffield Coroner's Court on Tuesday, June 21 heard that Rosie, aged four then and born in Barnsley, sustained 'life-changing' injuries, including brain and spinal injuries.

In September 2020, her condition started to deteriorate and she passed away on October 12, 2020, at her home on Barnsley Road, Wakefield.

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An inquest at Sheffield Coroner's Court on Tuesday, June 21 heard that Rosie, aged four then, sustained 'life-changing' injuries as a result of the collision including brain and spinal injuries.

Police Constable Richard Thorley, of South Yorkshire Police, told the inquest there were several factors that contributed to the crash.

He said: “It was a downhill section road covered by 40mph speed restriction. It took place in the early evening, after 5pm in the dark and it was quite a rainy evening.”

He said the Vauxhall Corsa Rosie was travelling in was driven by a man named Damian Scarf, the front seat passenger was her mum, and her dad was sitting in the rear with Rosie and her little brother.

PC Thorley said according to the police collision report, the car lost control in standing water which he believed was 3mm in depth.

He said the road is located on a hill bordered by farmland and heavy rain had caused water to drift across the carriageway.

He said while the report couldn't attribute a specific speed to the vehicle, it suggested the collision damage was caused by a speed that was ‘clearly excess to the speed restriction’.

He explained: “Witness testimony from inside the vehicle also raised concerns about the speed that Mr Scarf’s car was travelling at and in particular they noted prior to the collision scene, a hazard warning unit which illuminated when vehicles passed by exceeding the speed limit reminding them of the 40mph restriction.

“There were a number of people in the car commenting on the activation of that sign as the vehicle went past so we feel the speed was a significant attribution to it along with the road conditions at the time. As a result, the car started to lose control.”

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‘Rosie should have been in a child booster seat’

PC Thorley said due to Rosie's age, she should have been in a child booster seat.

He said: “It was made known soon after that Rosie had a habit of removing the seat at the shoulder portion of the seat belt because she found it uncomfortable and was only restrained by the lap portion of the seat belt. The seat belt was properly checked and it was in full function of order.”

According to testimony by an off-duty doctor who gave Rosie CPR, PC Thorley said Rosie wasn't restrained.

He added Rosie's injuries were ‘significantly more serious’ than the other parties in the same vehicle.

The inquest also heard that Rosie was first rushed to Barnsley Hospital before being transferred to Sheffield Children's Hospital for further treatment.

He also revealed that Mr Scarf, the driver of the car, was dealt with at court for offences relating to the crash.

Coroner Abigail Combes concluded that the death was caused by a road traffic accident and passed her condolences to the family, who were not present at the inquest.