A schoolboy was killed after he unexpectedly ran in front of a bus, an inquest heard.
Matthew Hayes was walking home from The Venerable Bede Church of England Academy in Sunderland last November when he stepped into the road without warning and into the path of a single decker bus.
An inquest into the 12-year-old’s death yesterday heard how Matthew had previously been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a lifelong disability which affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people.
Evidence read out from Dr Kim Barratt, a consultant paediatrician at Sunderland Royal Hospital, explained how the condition could cause a “reduced road sense” which may have placed Matthew at greater risk of accident.
Assistant coroner for Sunderland, Karin Welsh, recorded Matthew’s death as an accident and affirmed that no blame whatsoever was attached to the bus driver behind the wheel on that day, who she says was driving in an “exemplary manner”.
Matthew’s family echoed this in a statement they released following the hearing which paid tribute to the much-loved “happy boy”.
It said: “Matthew was a beloved son, brother, grandson and nephew. He was adored by all is family.
“We would like to pay tribute to our son, he was a wonderful happy boy who was always smiling. The whole family have found it difficult to comprehend the devastating loss the family have suffered. He will be sorely missed.”
They added: “This was a tragic accident, the bus driver has done nothing wrong, we will never forget Matthew and we now have the job of rebuilding our shattered lives.” The youngster, from Moorside, was wearing his school uniform as he walked home with a friend at around 3.30pm on Friday, November 22, along Ryhope Street South when he suddenly ran out onto the road.
A No 42 single decker Go North East bus was travelling down the road but the driver had insufficient time to stop or swerve and it hit Matthew.
Dozens of people flocked to try and help him including friends and strangers - some of whom were medical professionals - but nothing could be done to save the youngster and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
His family say they were overwhelmed by the efforts of those who tried to help him after the accident as well as the support from people following the tragedy.
They said: “We would like to express our thanks to friends and family, Matthew’s school and the police for all their support.”
“Also, we would like to thank all the medical people present at the scene, some not on duty, and the hospital staff who offered assistance to Matthew and did all they could.
“We would like to thank all those who gave gifts, flowers and cards as we have been overwhelmed by people’s kindness.”
Assistant coroner Karin Welsh confirmed the cause of death as multiple injuries due to a road traffic collision and recorded a verdict of accidental death.
She said: “Matthew died as a result of an accident. The witnesses that we have can tell of how things happened but the difficult question I can’t answer for you as a family is why.”
She added: “Can I make it very clear that there is no blame whatsoever attached to the bus driver. There is no evidence to suggest that the bus driver was driving in anything other than an exemplary manner.”