Family tribute to “fantastic” Sunderland grandad who died after being hit by car

A devastated family have paid tribute to a much-loved grandad who died after being hit by a car outside a Sunderland pub.

Craig Whitfield was knocked over by a Mercedes Benz on Hylton Roadat 9.45pm on November 2, 2019.

Emergency services attended the scene, near the Oddies pub, and found Craig had suffered a severe head injuries.

The 57-year-old was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where he underwent surgery but he passed away three days later.

A conclusion of “accidental death” was recorded by assistant coroner Karen Welsh at an inquest on Thursday with multiple factors leading to the tragic incident.

Pathologist Dr Peter Cooper told the inquest Craig had suffered an “unsurvivable” blunt head injury.

He had sustained a skull fracture, severe brain damage, fractures to the pelvis and multiple broken bones in his leg.

The inquest heard how Craig had worked a night shift at a warehouse before spending the day of Saturday, November 2, with his family and watching his beloved Sunderland AFC.

He’d been drinking at a number of establishments in the city, the last of those being Oddie’s pub on Hylton Road.

Police analysed CCTV footage which showed the dad-of-four leaving the pub from the main door “looking unsteady on his feet”.

He walked diagonally across the road and was knocked down by the car travelling just above the 30mph speed limit.

PC Ian Hall, from the Northumbria Police collision investigation unit, said: “I believe fatigue, tiredness and alcohol may account for that unsteadiness.”

Oddies on Hylton Road, Sunderland
Oddies on Hylton Road, Sunderland

He added that those factors could have impacted Craig’s decision-making such as the distance of the vehicle headlights at night.

The driver of the Mercedes Benz told police he did not see Craig, who was wearing dark clothing.

However PC Hall told the inquest he believed that the driver would have seen Craig “at some point”.

He said: “The driver ought to have seen Craig, but if he had it would have been possibly too late.

“He applied the brakes when he heard the thud.”

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He added that the driver of the Mercedes may have been startled by the headlights of a car travelling in the opposite direction just seconds before the collision.

Ms Welsh said that it had been a “complex incident”, adding: “An accident is my conclusion as no one person or object is at fault.

“It’s been everything coming together that has led to this awful incident.”

Speaking after the proceedings, Craig’s wife, Yvonne, paid tribute to the loving grandad-of-seven who was a “fantastic bloke”.

She said: “Craig loved his family, he adored them. He was so hard-working and he was well-liked by everyone.

“Around 600 people came along to his funeral. The whole of Hylton Road was shut off.

“He was a fantastic bloke, a really funny man.

“He was a Sunderland and England fan and he loved the Queen.

“We are beyond devastated at what has happened. It’s been absolutely terrible.

“There’s no one to blame. It’s just one of those awful accidents.”

Chronicle Live – Sunderland