England

Police car deaths: Woman third to die in 24 hours

Holly Burke Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption PCSO Holly Burke was killed near Birmingham on Tuesday - another woman died the following day

A woman has died after being struck by a police car - the third death involving police vehicles in England in a 24-hour period.

Jessie Whitehead was riding a mobility scooter when she was hit by a marked car as it responded to an emergency call in Warwickshire on Wednesday.

She was taken to hospital where she later died.

On Tuesday two women were killed within 15 minutes of each other during police operations in London and the Midlands.

In Bearwood, near Birmingham, off-duty PCSO Holly Burke, 28, was struck by a car being pursued by police at about 23:30 GMT.

At 23:45 GMT there was a crash in Walthamstow in which a 26-year-old refugee from Eritrea died when she was hit by a 999 response car.

The three deaths followed another in Oadby, Leicester on Saturday when a man was hit by a car which had earlier failed to stop for police.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has opened a investigations into all four deaths.

Image copyright Police handout
Image caption Jessie Whitehead died in hospital after being struck by the police car on Wednesday

Ms Whitehead was hit on Coventry Road, close to The Griffin pub, in Bedworth, at about midday, police said.

Two officers in the vehicle were responding to an emergency call about a road safety hazard in the area, the IOPC said.

Statements have been taken from them and any relevant CCTV will be reviewed, they added.

Assistant Chief Constable Alex Franklin-Smith, from the Warwickshire force, said: "Our thoughts are with the woman's family at this very difficult time."

Police are trying to trace the London victim's next of kin who are thought to live outside the UK.

The 26-year-old, a pedestrian, was pronounced dead at the scene on Forest Road, Walthamstow.

Gilbert James, 44, a Forest Road resident, said he "heard a loud bang and police sirens".

When he went outside to investigate the noise, he saw a "person lying on the floor" and a police car windscreen "completely smashed".

Image copyright PA
Image caption A woman from Eritrea was hit by a marked police car in Walthamstow

Off-duty PCSO Ms Burke also died at the scene on Lordswood Road, Bearwood.

She was in a car struck by a vehicle that, according to West Midlands Police, had been involved in a pursuit by officers.

A 42-year-old man has appeared in court charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

Ch Supt Kenny Bell, from the West Midlands force for which Ms Burke served, said it was "a desperately sad time for everyone who knew Holly".

There were 29 police-related fatalities on the roads in 2017-18, of which 17 were "pursuit-related", according to IOPC. Eight involved police vehicles responding to emergency calls.

Five deaths involved police vehicles hitting pedestrians while responding to an emergency call and one pedestrian death related to a pursuit.

In the previous year, 2016-17, there were 32 fatalities on the roads involving the police. Of those, 28 related to pursuits and none involved police responding to emergency calls.

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