Pensioner fell out of her car which then hit and killed a jogger, 70

Pensioner, 68, whose new car hit and killed a jogger, 70, after she fell out of it in a freak accident is banned from driving

  • Gillian Richards, 68, fell out of her car which then hit jogger David Harris, 70 
  • He was pinned underneath the runaway people carrier on the beach at Swanage
  • Members of the public rushed to try and lift the Vauxhall Zafira off of Mr Harris 
  • Richings admitted causing death by driving without due care and attention and was banned from driving for a year, fined and ordered to do community service

A pensioner who fell out of her car seconds before it mounted a seafront promenade and hit and killed a 70-year-old jogger has been banned from driving. 

Gillian Richings, 68, tumbled out of the driver’s seat as she reversed her semi-automatic car with her door open in Swanage, Dorset, on April 2.

The empty vehicle then mounted the pavement and struck jogger David Harris, 70, who happened to be running by at that moment.

Emergency services at the scene on Swanage seafront following the incident on April 2

He was pinned underneath the runaway people carrier on the beach at Swanage, Dorset.

Members of the public rushed to try and lift the Vauxhall Zafira off of Mr Harris.

But despite their efforts and those of police, firefighters, coastguard officers and paramedics, the retired railway engineer died on the beach from fatal head injuries.


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Richings admitted causing death by driving without due care and attention at Poole Magistrates’ Court and escaped a prison sentence.

Mr Harris’ distraught widow Rosemary told the court she was devastated, heartbroken and angry at Richings.

In a victim impact statement read out she said: ‘How can I begin to explain my overwhelming, devastating, heartbroken feelings?

Members of the public rushed to try and lift the car off of Mr Harris (Pictured: The scene)

‘He was my husband, my best friend and my constant companion. We were really happy and looking forward to a happy future together.’

Mrs Harris also spoke of the ‘hate and anger’ she felt for ‘the woman who killed my husband and has never apologised’.

She said: ‘She has taken all that away from us and destroyed our lives and future.’

The court heard Richings had only bought the semi-automatic Vauxhall Zafira about a month before the incident.

On the morning of April 2 this year she drove the people carrier to Swanage seafront and was reversing into a parking space when tragedy struck.

With the door open, she leaned out of it to looked where she was going when she pressed down on the accelerator rather than the brake by mistake.

The vehicle struck a lamppost, causing her to fall out.

Desmond Reynolds, defending, said Richings had made a ‘terrible error’ not turning her engine off and bringing the car out of reverse before leaning out to check its position in the road.

He also offered her ‘profound and public apology’ to Mr Harris’ family and friends.

Mr Reynolds said: ‘She particularly apologies to Rosemary Harris, who has suffered a terrible loss.

‘She has owned her semi-automatic car for around a month. She had driven an automatic before, but not for at least ten years.’

Richings, from Swanage, who was issued with her driving licence in 1986, had no points on her licence.

Magistrates banned her from driving for 12 months, told her to carry out 120 hours of community service and fined her £150 fine and pay £85 costs. 

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