Teen girl was on her phone when she walked out in front of truck

Nikita Dunne
Nikita Dunne

A schoolgirl was killed when she stepped out onto the road in front of a truck while looking at her mobile phone.

Family members of Nikita Dunne (15), from Sherrard Street, Dublin, paid tribute to her as a "funny, bubbly, happy, lovely girl", at the inquest into her death yesterday.

The incident happened outside Heuston Station on July 17, 2014.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has said it will consider the findings of the Coroner's report and its recommendations in future campaigns to address vulnerable road users.

It said the issue of texting while walking by young people was addressed in many of its educational resources for primary and secondary schools.

Witnesses told Dublin Coroner's Court that Nikita was seen walking from the Parkgate Street direction around 4.20pm in the afternoon.

Aoife Breen, who was on the Luas, said she saw the girl walk out in front of the truck without looking up from her mobile phone.

"I saw a white oil truck. I saw a girl on the footpath, it looked like she was texting on her phone. She walked out without looking up from her phone," Miss Breen said.

Another witness, Andrea Gozzola, saw the girl cross in front of the truck, which was moving at "walking speed".

"Her head was below the truck's cab level, making it impossible for the driver to see her," Ms Gozzola said.

"When she was half way across she turned her head back and realised, she was too close to get away. It all happened so slowly but yet so quickly."

Andrea Ryan, who was cycling along South Quay, also saw Nikita fall under the wheels.

"It was as if she was just pushed over by the truck," she said.

Driver Patrick Bagnall had made a delivery to Heuston Station and stopped at a red light before easing slowly forward in the direction of Heuston Bridge.

He saw the girl as he waited for the lights to change.

"The last I saw of her she was on the footpath. I checked the mirrors and moved off.

"I felt a bump and saw a body on the ground," Mr Bagnall said.

Nikita was raised by extended family having lost both her parents at a young age.

Her grand-uncle Joe Flood said the family had no ill will against the truck driver and keep him in their prayers.

Garda Sergeant Paul Kearney said CCTV footage showed the girl was holding a mobile phone when she stepped out in front of the truck.

"It appears she was holding something to her head. She may have been dialling a number when she was seen looking at her phone [seconds] earlier.

"She may have noticed the truck more, if her arm was down," Sgt Kearney said. She was pronounced dead at the scene."

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

They recommended "the dangers of the distractions of using mobile phones" should be drawn to the attention of the public.

Via Herald