99 year-old’s fall led to death

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A pensioner who was just seven months short of her 100th birthday died after a road accident led to her contracting pneumonia.

An inquest into her death at Bradford Coroner’s Court heard Jennie Sheard, from Ward Hills Court, Batley, described as a “determined” and “remarkable” lady, who remained fiercely independent until the final weeks of her life.

It was heard that, on the morning of September 29 last year, Miss Sheard was walking along Hanover Street as she went to collect her newspaper, when she was found lying on the ground partially underneath a delivery van, which had started slowly reversing.

The driver of the Volkswagen Crafter, Brenton Williams, stopped the vehicle when he heard a ‘yelp’ from behind, and a passer-by called for him to stop. He rushed out of the van and found Miss Sheard lying on the ground, dazed but conscious and apparently unharmed.

She was taken to Dewsbury and District Hospital as a precaution, but X-rays later showed she had sustained three broken ribs, before she was discharged the following day. However, she was re-admitted in the early hours of the morning of October 1 after reporting breathing difficulties. Her condition quickly deteriorated and she was diagnosed with pneumonia and heart failure before dying in hospital on October 23. Medical experts said that the accident was likely to have contributed to her pneumonia.

Recording a narrative conclusion, Coroner Mary Burke said: “On September 29 2014, Jennie Sheard was found in close proximity with a Volkswagen Crafter Van which was reversing. It is unclear whether she came in contact with the van or whether she stumbled on the road and fell underneath the vehicle.”

Speaking after the hearing, Miss Sheard’s daughter Brenda Smith said: “We all loved and miss her very much. Anyone who’s lost a matriarchal figure in their family will know how difficult it is.”

Police who interviewed Mr Williams reported that he was “shaken up” and visibly upset by what they described as a “very unfortunate and tragic set of circumstances”. He will face no charges.