HELMETS should be worn by people riding mobility scooters, say two sons mourning the death of their father in a tragic accident.
John Hitchcock, a retired window cleaner, was riding home on his mobility scooter along the pavement when a wheel went over the edge of the kerb and the scooter toppled into the road.
The 75-year-old suffered serious head injuries, including a bleed on the brain, and died less than three months later at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.
His sons, Terry and Michael Hitchcock, attended his inquest in Portsmouth and said after the hearing that a helmet would have saved their dad’s life.
Michael, from West Sussex, told The News: ‘He was a truly great father, who was taken from us too soon by the lax legislation surrounding mobility scooters and I hope users of these will take note of how dangerous these scooters are and wear helmets.’
The inquest heard the accident happened on November 7 last year in Church Road as Mr Hitchcock returned home from the shops in Elm Grove.
PC Adrian Rosser, from Hampshire Roads Policing Unit, said there was no evidence any other vehicle or person was involved.
Mr Hitchcock, of Restawyle Avenue, Hayling Island, had had the Shoprider scooter for 18 months.
Collision investigator PC Michaela Mehigan said: ‘The road surface and pavement were in a good state of repair with no obvious defects.’
The mobility scooter was examined and there were no faults, she told the coroner. She said the scooter had a maximum speed of 5mph, but this was contested by Mr Hitchcock’s sons, who believed the scooter may have travelled at up to 20mph.
Mrs Mehigan said the incident could have been the result of Mr Hitchcock becoming distracted, a misjudgement or a medical episode.
Dr Ian Cranston, a consultant at Queen Alexandra Hospital, said Mr Hitchcock had surgery to remove a bleed on the brain and showed some signs of recovery at one stage.
But he died on January 24 after he had been suffering from pneumonia.
Coroner David Horsley said: ‘Given the nature of these things, they are designed to make you mobile. I suppose there are limitations on the way you design them.
‘They do go faster than 5mph. I have seen people riding them faster than that. That’s something you can’t legislate against.’
Recording a verdict of accidental death, he said: ‘He’s lost control and toppled over the edge of the pavement.’
The Highway Code states that scooters must not travel faster than 4mph on pavements.
Slower Class 2 mobility scooters can only be used on pavements, whereas Class 3 mobility scooters can travel at a top speed of 8mph, can be used on the road and must be registered with the DVLA.
There is no requirement to wear a helmet, although lights must be used at night and reflective clothing is advised.