Young woman describes moment fiancé was killed by bus outside Euston station
- Credit: Archant
The fiancé of a Transport for London worker run over by a bus outside Euston station just months before they were due to marry has paid tribute to her “legend” of a boyfriend after a coroner ruled his death was accidental.
Peter Van de Bulk, 26, was hit by a bus while rushing to catch a train with fiancé Lauren Barwis, 25, on the evening of March 11.
Walking slightly ahead of Ms Barwis, the coroner heard how Mr Van de Bulk stepped out to cross the road while a red pedestrian light was showing, before slipping and falling backwards.
An oncoming bus turning into Euston station then ran over his body, causing multiple injuries.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
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No arrests have been made and there is no criminal prosecution.
Giving evidence at St Pancras Coroner’s Court today, Ms Barwis described the moment her husband-to-be was killed, saying: “To get through people Peter was a few steps ahead of me as we were approaching. Peter went through some people in the central area.
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“I thought there was an impact but I don’t actually remember.
“He slipped. I just remember him rolling under the bus.
“I remember I shouted something but I don’t remember.
“As Peter rolled under, it was his bottom half underneath the left of the bus and the bus was still going.
“He was rolling under and as he rolled under the back wheel came towards him and was pretty sure it was on him.
“That was when I shouted for the bus to be moved forward.
“I got my phone out as an immediate reaction. I just shouted ‘Please someone call 999’.”
A subsequent investigation found Mr Van de Bulk, who was due to marry his fiancé last month, was likely caught in a blind spot.
The driver of the Arriva bus, Tolu Oyenuga, was said to be travelling between five and 10mph at the time of the impact.
He told the court: “As I was turning into the road, all I heard was a thud from my near side.
“Someone shouted ‘stop the bus’. I noticed I’d gone over something. I was in a state of panic.”
Family and friends of Mr Van de Bulk said they held “no grudge” against the bus driver, with Ms Barwis adding: “We are sorry for what he has gone through.”
Assistant coroner Dr William Dolman returned a verdict of accidental death.
While Mr Van de Bulk’s family and friends said they were happy with the verdict, a number of questions over the safety of the junction where he died were raised in the court.
Simon Wickenden, a Metropolitan Police traffic management officer, told the court pedestrians at the crossing were forced to wait up to 78 seconds for a green man signal to show.
Describing the junction as “substandard”, he said: “It’s an extremely long time for pedestrians to be waiting... they constantly cross while a red man is showing.
“It’s completely unrealistic and takes no account of human behaviour. Any pedestrian familiar with the area is likely to cross during a red signal.”
An investigation prompted by Mr Van de Bulk’s death also found many buses turning into Euston Station travelled over the recommended 10mph speed limit.
Camden Council, working with the Metropolitan Police Service, has since narrowed the entrance and widened pavements.
Despite nothing being done to change the signal timings on the lights - a responsibility of TfL - the coroner chose not to issue a Report to Prevent Future Deaths (PFD), content the accident was a “one off”.
But his decision left a number of transport safety campaigners attending the inquest unhappy.
Tom Kearney, who started the Safer Oxford Street blog after he was almost killed in a collision with a bendy bus in Oxford Street in 2009, said: “I was very disappointed in the fact that the Judge did not issue a PFD Order. “The Met Officer clearly demonstrated that situation needed improvement by the short-term actions that were taken immediately after the fatality to protect pedestrians by widening walkways and reduce bus speeds by narrowing roadway. “TfL signalling ensures that pedestrians wait for 78 seconds to cross a narrow road to get to Euston Station but then flings buses at them unexpectedly.”