E-scooter rider was likely listening to music when struck by car, inquest hears

081221 George McGowan - BMP Media - Meridian
George McGowan Credit: BMP Media

An e-scooter rider who was fatally struck by a car as he crossed a road from behind a parked van may not have noticed the vehicle while listening to music on his AirPods, an inquest heard.

George McGowan, 19, sustained a head injury after he collided with a Volkswagen EOS car and was thrown into the air in Leominster Road in Portsmouth at around 8.14pm on June 12 this year.

The warehouse worker died in hospital 10 days later, with a post-mortem examination giving the cause as a traumatic brain injury.

He had just left his girlfriend's house when the crash happened, and according to ambulance service records he was not wearing a helmet.

Forensic collision investigator Laura Bailey told an inquest in Portsmouth: "It's believed Mr McGowan was listening to music in the moments before the collision.

"This could have removed any auditory signal of an approaching vehicle."

A pair of broken AirPods and a carry case were found at the scene.

Ms Bailey said that the teenager had been riding along a footpath before he went to cross the road and "it appears (he) failed to complete a check of his safety margins before entering the road".

Vehicles were parked along the road where Mr McGowan crossed, restricting visibility, Ms Bailey said.

Pedestrian Robert James said, in a statement read to the inquest, that Mr McGowan "did not appear to slow before crossing the road".

Ms Bailey said that the car was estimated to be driving at between 17mph and 20mph along the road, which is subject to a 20mph speed limit, before it struck Mr McGowan.

She said that the driver had less than one second to react.

Ms Bailey said that Mr McGowan's e-scooter was privately owned and as he was in a public place he was "therefore riding an illegal motor vehicle at the time of the collision".

She said that Mr McGowan, who had held a provisional driving licence since April 2021, had owned the e-scooter for around three months and rode it almost daily.

He was aware that his use of the privately owned e-scooter was illegal, Ms Bailey said, as he had been "stopped two months previously and given a warning for using (his e-scooter) within a public place".

Ms Bailey said that Mr McGowan had epilepsy and "may have suffered from a seizure in the moments prior" but a medical episode was "considered unlikely" as he had only just left the footpath.

His partner said he had been happy in their relationship.

Hampshire area coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, concluding that Mr McGowan died asthe result of a road traffic collision, said: "He doesn't appear to have checked to see if any vehicles were coming.

"It's likely he was listening to music in ear pods at the time."

Addressing Mr McGowan's mother Marie White, who listened to proceedings online, she said: "George seemed a lovely lad. I'm very sorry."