A DISTRAUGHT motorist has told an inquest how she was driving along a country road when a pedestrian on the verge suddenly walked out in front of her.

Julia Branson wept as she described how she braked and swerved in a vain attempt to prevent her Kia Sportage hitting 38-year-old Nicholas Carpenter.

The inquest was told that Mr Carpenter, of Strensall, who regularly took part in bird surveys for wildlife organisations, was out birdwatching when the accident happened on the Sheriff Hutton Road between Strensall and Sheriff Hutton, on March 20, 2019.

Witnesses said they saw him before the crash on the verge with binoculars and clipboard, looking out across the fields.

Miss Branson, of Nunnington, said the crash happened when she was driving with her sister Gillian Cooper to York at about 50 to 55mph on a road with a 60mph speed limit. She saw Mr Carpenter on the verge and as she approached him, he suddenly walked out across the road.

Her sister Gillian said in a statement she estimated they were only eight metres from Mr Carpenter when he stepped out. She said Miss Branson was a “safe and careful driver”, had had both hands on the steering wheel and had reacted instantly.

PC Paddy Green said that in a reconstruction, other motorists had not slowed down when they had seen a pedestrian on the verge.

Coroner John Broadbridge, concluding Mr Carpenter died of head injuries in a collision, rejected calls by his family for him to press for Highway Code to take account of pedestrians on verges, but said he would write to county highways to ask it to look at safety on this road.

Mr Carpenter’s family said afterwards they were “utterly devastated” by losing him, saying: “The gap he leaves in the family will never go away.”

They said 60 per cent of road deaths were on rural roads, and they wanted to see their default 60mph limit reviewed and lowered, adding: “There should be clear standards set in the Highway Code for driving past pedestrians on the uneven verge of a rural road.”