‘Careless’ pedestrian blamed for traffic lights accident, court rules

Octogenarian cleared of seriously injuring pedestrian through dangerous driving after magistrate rules that 80-year-old victim’s carelessness was reason for accident.

An 83-year-old driver who ran over an elderly woman on a zebra crossing was this morning acquitted of seriously injuring the victim through dangerous driving, after the court ruled that the pedestrian had “negligently” crossed the street without waiting for the traffic lights to turn red.

Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera also cleared Antonio Farrugia of negligent driving after she ruled that “there was no doubt” that the victim’s carelessness causes the traffic accident.

The accident occurred on March 26, 2012, at about 10:15am, when 80-year-old Pauline Vassallo was crossing Triq Borg Olivier, St Julian’s on the pelican crossing when, all of a sudden, she was hit by a Toyota Ractis driven by 83-year-old Antonio Farrugia.

Vassallo was certified to be in critical condition after suffering lacerations to her head and arm, severe bruising, rib fractures. She also spent two days unconscious.

The accused told the court that he had been driving towards Sliema when he spotted the victim and two other pedestrians waiting for the lights to change, to cross safely. He explained that since the lights were still green, he continued to drive, only for the victim to cross the street anyway.

Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera also heard that the driver applied the brakes and tried to avoid hitting the victim, but hit the elderly woman with the side of the car.

Corroborating the accused’s testimony, two pedestrians, Alan and Carmen Borg, told the court that despite their warnings, Vassallo crossed the street when the lights were still green. The victim lost consciousness after being hit by the car’s side view mirror and was certified to be in critical condition.

In her testimony, the victim told the magistrate that she was unsure as to whether there was a zebra crossing or traffic lights. She also said that she was unsure as to when the incident occurred and whether she pressed the button to activate the traffic lights.

Court expert Mario Buttigieg concluded that even thought the accused could have applied the brakes earlier, the victim was nevertheless at fault because she crossed the street carelessly.

Taking the expert’s conclusions into account, Magistrate Scerri Herrera cleared the man of all charges and said that the accident was caused solely by a careless pedestrian.

Police Inspector Luke Bonello led the prosecution.