Pedestrian made ‘error of judgment’ before being hit by motorcycle, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 16:39 24 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:55 29 October 2018

Police signs on Beccles Road in Bradwell after the incident. Picture: David Hannant

Police signs on Beccles Road in Bradwell after the incident. Picture: David Hannant


A woman died after her head was struck by a motorcyclist’s helmet after she stepped out into the road without looking, an inquest has heard.

Susan Rolf, 62, of Hawthorn Road, Gorleston, was struck by a motorcycle on her way to her job as a health care assistant on Tuesday, February 13, in Beccles Road, Bradwell.

David Ball was also travelling to work at Bernard Matthews on his Yammaha XJ6 motorcycle, where he has worked for 20 years, at about 6.30am.

Mr Ball told the court that it was still dark and he had his dipped beam headlight on but he did not see Mrs Rolf and only had a “split second” to react.

Mrs Rolf was wearing a brown parka which had a large fluffy hood as it was 5C.

Walking out of Crab Lane she made an “error of judgment” by stepping into the road. The inquest heard evidence from forensic road collision investigator Paul Mackay who believes that the hood blocked her view.

Witness Dean Tooke said that Mrs Rolf had not been distracted and walked into the road “without stopping or slowing”.

She hit the left side of the motorbike and her head hit Mr Ball’s helmet.

Emergency services were called to the scene and Mrs Rolf was taken to James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, with serious head injuries, where she died.

Mr Ball, who has held a motorcycle licence for 34 years, was deemed to be riding in a “careful manner” and travelling at the 30mph speed limit.

He had owned the motorcycle for 18 months and was familiar with the controls.

Norfolk senior coroner, Jacqueline Lake, said: “Mr Ball had no time to avoid the collision.

“He was familiar with the controls and the road. Evidence from witnesses say they did not hear Mr Ball’s bike and he was seen driving at a safe speed.

“Mr Ball saw a man on the other side of the road walking a dog. He only had a split second to react after Mrs Rolf stepped in the road without slowing down or changing direction.”

At the time of her death, Mrs Rolf’s children said: “Our precious mum was taken from us on Tuesday 13 February 2018.

“She will always be treasured by her four children and ten grandchildren and was a wonderful daughter and sister.

“She was such a caring, kind lady who will be missed forever.”

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