Tragic Dru lived life to the full

THE inquest into the death of Dru Hamm this week heard how a taxi driver swerved to avoid her motionless body – then watched in his mirror as the car behind ran straight over her.

Police inquiries have not been able to establish how or why Miss Hamm had been lying on the unlit main road on a dark morning last November.

Emotional tributes were paid to the 38-year-old who was born with cerebral palsy but had overcome her disability to live life to the full.

In a statement read out at the inquest, her mother Cherry Anne Hamm said her daughter had defied medical opinion which had said she would never be able to walk.

By eight she was walking her first steps and went on to study accountancy at university. She completed mission work in Albania, travelled to Romania with a charity working with poverty-stricken families, and twice took part in the Parish Walk, raising thousands for charity.

The inquest heard that Miss Hamm, who was working as an accountant for Crossleys LLC in Ballasalla, had been due to fly to Manchester on business on November 4 and was to be taken to the airport by her colleague Nigel Rotheroe that morning.

He arranged to pick her up in the lay-by opposite the Mount Murray estate in Santon where she lived.

Anthony Sewell had been driving his Peugeot from his home in Farmhill to the Co-op in Castletown where he worked as store manager when the collision took place near the Hop Garden at about 6am.

He told the inquest. 'I feel very guilty and feel as if I killed her.

'As I drove past the Hop Garden and through the bend, I drove over something. My first thought was it was a log or a cat.'

He said he then had a flashback and realised it was the body of a woman, her head near the centre line of the road.

Stopping, he rang 999 on his mobile, saying: 'I think I've just run over a body in the road. It was just lying there.'

The car in front, a Mondeo taxi driven by Brian Young of Regaby, who was taking a passenger to the airport, said he instinctively swerved as he saw what appeared to be a binbag in the road. It was only after he passed her that he realised it was a body. He did not see the body move.

He then looked in his rear view mirror and saw the vehicle behind drive straight over her.

His passenger Kevin Cubitt said: 'I do not believed we had hit anything in the road.'

An examination carried out by the vehicle test centre in Tromode confirmed that the taxi had not struck Miss Hamm.

Tests carried out on the Peugeot showed it had bald front tyres that meant it should not have been driven on a public road.

But Constable Paul Dugdale, of the roads policing unit, said an investigation concluded that these defects would not have contributed to the collision.

He said it was dark at the time of the accident and the road was unlit.

Both Mr Young's taxi and Mr Sewell's Peugeot were estimated to be driving at the road's 50mph speed limit.

It would have been extremely difficult to pick out a figure lying in the road, especially when using dipped headlights, he concluded.

'As to how or why Miss Hamm was lying in the road is unknown. There were no markings or signs of injury to suggest she was struck by the front of a vehicle while upright,' he added.

The inquest heard that Dru walked with a distinct gait with both feet turned in at an angle.

Her mother said: 'Due to Dru's disability she did walk slower than most people.'

The inquest heard that when she fell over, she was able to get to her feet unaided and declined any offer of assistance.

Coroner Alastair Montgomerie adjourned the inquest until September as one witness had been unable to attend Monday's hearing.

While he was unable to conclude the inquest, he said it was clear that rather than dwell on Dru's death, her life should be celebrated. She remained happy, bubbly and just wished to help the disadvantaged. 'She is a young lady who showed tremendous courage in the face of adversity. In her short life, she achieved many more things than most achieve in a full and long life.'

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