Luton Airport fined over pensioner death

Luton Airport fined over pensioner death 25686

Luton Airport and a design subcontracting firm have been fined after a pensioner suffered a fatal accident on a badly sited pedestrian crossing.

Mary Whiting, 78, from Taverham in Norfolk, was crushed under a 26-tonne lorry as she used a zebra crossing between Luton Airport's terminal building and a drop-off zone on May 19th 2009.

Luton Crown Court heard the returning traveller thought the truck was stationary but in actual fact the vehicle had set off before she started to cross the road and it struck her - dragging Ms Whiting under its wheels.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the crossing, which had been designed by C-T Aviation Solutions and was on land owned by Luton Airport, did not conform to public road regulations and was badly positioned.

Jurors were told the pedestrian safety utility had been opened in March 2009 as part of a wider revamp of roads, parking enforcement and signage.

But after Ms Whiting's death, Luton Airport was served with an Improvement Notice and it subsequently changed the crossing's position.

However, this wasn't enough for the transport hub to escape prosecution and London Luton Airport Operations was fined £75,000 and told to pay £197,595 in costs after it was found guilty of breaching Sections 3(1) and 21 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Design subcontractor C-T Aviation Solutions was also brought to court and had to pay £100,000 in fines and costs. The driver of the lorry was acquitted of dangerous driving.

After sentencing was completed, HSE inspector Graham Tompkins said: "This tragic incident could easily have been avoided had London Luton Airport Operations  taken the proper steps to ensure the safety of vehicles and their passengers at the airport.

"Had they provided a crossing that was safe to use, then Mary Whiting would still be with her family today. The C-T Aviation Solutions design simply did not meet the required standards."

By Francesca Witney