Tearful driver recounts moment wheel flew off Land Rover killing schoolgirl, 11

Schoolgirl Amelia Wood, 11, was fatally injured (Image: Grimsby Telegraph / BPM Media)

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A driver whose Land Rover's wheel flew off and hit a schoolgirl has given an emotional account of the moment she was killed.

The 25-year-old driver broke down as he relived the tragedy before an inquest this week.

Amelia Wood died after the wheel struck her on March 6, 2018 as she walked to catch a school bus in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire.

Cameron Perkins, 25, was named for the first time as the inquest into the 11-year-old's death got underway, reports Grimsby Live.

A wheel flew off his highly-modified Land Rover as he passed Amelia on her way to catch her bus to school in the morning.

Amelia was airlifted to Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, where she later died.

Mr Perkins wept as he recalled how the front wheel came off on the B1200 as the vehicle was driven from the 60mph area into the 40mph zone ahead of the 30mph area.

Amelia Wood was walking to catch the school bus when she was hit
(Image: Grimsby Live WS)

He said: “I tried to correct it as it pulled to the left. The wheel came off and went up on the kerb. The axle went on the ground. It all
happened so fast.”

He came face to face with Amelia's parents, Hayley Hodson and Terry Wood for the first time.

At the start of the hearing, devastated Hayley said: "My little girl was cruelly taken from us. This day changed our lives forever. She was a bright, lively little girl.”

Later, while hearing evidence, she left the room in a distressed state, prompting the coroner to order a break in proceedings until she was able to return.

Mr Perkins told the inquest at Boston Enterprise Centre that he had swapped his Ford Fiesta van for the Land Rover – both valued at about £1,200, after exchanging messages with its previous owner, Adam Askew,
on Facebook.

Cameron Perkins pictured leaving the inquest at Boston Enterprise Centre
(Image: Grimsby Telegraph / BPM Media)

They met at the Shell garage in Louth to do the exchange on January 22 that year.

Mr Perkins, who was 22 at the time of the incident, told the inquest he had been driving for just over a year and had owned eight vehicles in that time.

Under questioning from coroner Paul Smith, Mr Perkins confirmed the quality of the vehicles remained the same as when he exchanged or swapped them.

He added: “I only did routine maintenance.”

The Land Rover's last MoT had been in September 2017.

The scene of the tragedy in Lincolnshire
(Image: Grimsby Telegraph / BPM Media)

The coroner also heard that the wheels had been removed on February 28.

Mr Perkins said he had been off-road driving and that had caused a vibration so he wanted the wheels balanced at a garage.

“It was off-roading that probably did it. That might have caused the vibration” said Mr Perkins.

The inquest was told that a vehicle examination revealed an outer wheel bearing was missing.

The coroner asked Mr Perkins: “Were you aware of any noise from that wheel?”

Mr Perkins replied: “100 per cent there wasn’t.”

He said he had been chatting with passenger and work mate William Anderson whom he picked up in Louth shortly before heading to work in Manby.

Under cross examination by Hayley Hodson’s solicitor Michael Pace, Mr Perkins said he would have noticed if there had been parts missing from the wheel.

Mr Pace questioned his removal of the tyres and said: "Did you not notice the bearing missing?"

Mr Perkins replied: “If I had seen it was missing I would not have used it.”

Mr Anderson said he had been picked up from Louth by Mr Perkins en route to their work at a caravan decking company in Manby.

“The vehicle was shaking for less than five seconds and the wheel came off. I could see the wheel running in front of the truck.

“He never mentioned any problems with the vehicle. He did not mention taking the wheels off to get them balanced.”

Mr Smith said the vehicle examiner’s report states the catastrophic fatality was caused by a snapped shaft .

“There would have been grinding and knocking and the tendency for the steering wheel to vibrate and the vehicle to pull to the side and wander. Were you aware of any of those features?”

Mr Anderson said: “I’m not a mechanic. There wasn’t any noise that was unusual .”

Previous owner of the Land Rover Discovery, Adam Askew, who is a fully-qualified mechanic, said he had carried out work to the vehicle before Christmas so he could go off-road driving.

He told the inquest: "It’s a well-specced vehicle. Not for day to day driving. It had a wobble on the suspension. It is a common problem with Land Rovers that have been lifted up.

Amelia attended school in Cleethorpes
(Image: SWNS.com)

"It is called the death wobble. Over 40mph it wobbles. It is a common Land Rover issue.”

Mr Askew said he listed all the problems and what he had done to rectify it before he swapped it for the Fiesta van.

“I had sent him full specifications of the vehicle. It was all listed,” he said.

Told that the fault was due to a “missing outboard bearing,” Mr Askew said: “Everything was there when I had the vehicle. I did 500 miles in it. With it missing, you would have been lucky to get 15 miles in it.”

Land Rover enthusiast and long-time friend of Mr Perkins, Matthew Elvin said he carried out some welding work on the Land Rover
Discovery.

“A wire had come off the starter motor. He said there was a knocking from the rear. I investigated further and did some welding," he
explained.

“100 per cent If I had seen anything he would not have been driving it.”

He said he did preventative maintenance as well.

Garage owner Tom Statham was asked by the coroner if he had ever done any work on the Land Rover.

Mr Statham, who owns Tom’s Tyres at Manby, said he had not.

A floral tribute for Amelia left at the scene
(Image: Grimsby Live WS)

The coroner said: “I suggest to you that you have done work on it.” He repeated he had not.

Mr Statham then told the hearing Cameron Perkins had asked to use his garage on March 5 – the day before the accident.

“He brought the truck in because he wanted to do some work on it.

“He was always coming in and using the ramp and tools. He was always in and out.”

Mr Statham said the request was around 3pm and he arrived in the evening. Tom’s Tyres is open from 8am to 8pm.

Police at the scene of the tragedy on Manby Middlegate
(Image: Grimsby Live WS)

He said he did not see what work he was doing.

Mr Perkins “was working on the ramp.”

“He is mechanically minded. He does not need babysitting so I left him to it and stayed in the office.”

Mr Statham said he did not have a conversation with Mr Perkins about the work he was carrying out.

Mr Perkins' barrister Tim Pole asked for the inquest to be halted for the day so that he could speak to his client.

The coroner said because that fresh information was not in the paperwork before the hearing, the barrister needed to speak to his client again, and Mr Perkins may need to return to give further evidence.

The hearing is due to resume today.