Girl died in split second tragedy


Lois Hough

A TEENAGE cyclist who was struck by a car died in a ‘split-second’, an inquest heard.

Joy Soffe, of Mare Hey Lane, Ewloe, had been volunteering at Capricorn Animal Rescue in Padeswood before she was hit by a Volkswagen Golf on the A550 Chester Road, Dobshill on July 29. The 13-year-old was riding her mountain bike on the pavement towards Hawarden but swerved unexpectedly into traffic, say witnesses.

It is thought Miss Soffe, a former pupil at Hawarden High School, had been crossing the road to a service station to buy a drink.

Her father Paul said his daughter had cycled to the animal shelter before without his knowledge.

“When we found out we went mad because it’s so dangerous on Dobshill,” he told the inquest at Wrexham Magistrates Court.

“On that day she said she was going across the road to a friend’s house, so it was a total shock for us.”

Witness Elwyn Kirkham, of Penyffordd, was a front seat passenger in the Volkswagen Golf driven by his son Rhys.

He said: “I just remember someone suddenly turning right into our path.

“I shouted my son’s name, but subconsciously I was shouting for Joy to look.

“I was just praying that she would look, but she couldn’t have seen the car because she just didn’t look at all.

“It happened in a split second. I knew what the result was before I got out of the car.”

Michael Robins, of Hawarden, was travelling behind Mr Kirkham in his Ford Focus and also witnessed the collision.

“She looked into the traffic for a gap and my first thought was ‘Oh God, don’t go now.’

“Then she appeared to straighten up so I breathed a sigh of relief, but then she came off the pavement at quite a speed.

“As she came out it was like a tremendous release of energy and the bike and Joy were thrown into the air.”

An ambulance was called and Mr Robins administered first aid.

“In my heart of hearts I know there was nothing we could do,” he said.

A post-mortem examination revealed Miss Soffe died of head injuries.

The road was closed for three hours following the collision shortly after 3pm.

PC James Knobbs, a crash investigator with North Wales Police, examined the scene following the accident.

He said the Volkswagen Golf and the Mountain Ridge Ultra Shock mountain bike were both in good working order.

He said Miss Soffe was not wearing a helmet but her injuries might have been lessened if she was..

Recording a verdict of accidental death, John Gittins, acting coroner for North East Wales, said: “The tragedy is immeasurable.

“We can only speculate about Joy’s intentions on that day.

“She has glanced across at the traffic and missed the car closest to her.

“Thinking she had the opportunity to nip across, she has done so.”

A statement read out in court by her parents Pascale and Paul, who run Christian music company Welcome Recordings from their home in Ewloe, said: “Joy was a very outgoing girl who won awards for sport and music.

“We often describe her as a dark horse because she just got on with things.

“Someone said she was Joy by name and nature.

“She is remembered with much love by her friends.”

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