Baby died from ‘catastrophic brain injury’ after van ploughed into his mum pushing pram

Baby died from ‘catastrophic brain injury’ after van ploughed into his mum pushing pram

A five-month-old baby died from ‘catastrophic brain injury’ after a van veered onto a pavement and hit him and his mother as he lay in a pram, an inquest has heard. Louis Thorold was being pushed in his pram by his mother Rachael, 36, when a van came off an A-road in Waterbeach, Cambs, and hit them both. The collision killed Louis and threw Rachael into the air leaving her with serious injuries.

A 74-year-old driver with undiagnosed Alzheimer’s disease was driving home from a shopping trip in her grey Mazda 2 when she drove into the path of an oncoming van that fateful afternoon on the A10 on January 22, 2021. This forced a Renault Master van to veer off course and onto the pavement where Rachael and Louis were. Louis was pronounced dead at 5.15pm in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambs.

Parents of Louis, Chris and Rachael Thorold, said: “Louis was the sweetest, happiest, joyful and most beautiful baby.

“Louis had his future and all his potential stolen. A life sentence for us, his family, our community, and everyone who hears this story.”

A pre-trial inquest into incident opened on Tuesday where Peterborough Town Hall Simon Milburn, Cambs, heard that the “initial hospital referral suggested Louis died of a catastrophic brain injury.”

Speaking directly to Louis’ family, Mr Milburn said: “This is the first time I have had the chance to speak to family members and I pass my condolences for your loss.”

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An inquest hearing is due to take place later this year. The tragic case was heard in Cambridge Crown Court last August and found the 74-year-old driver Shelagh Robertson not guilty by reason of insanity.

The jury found she had driven carelessly causing the death of Louis due to her atypical Alzheimer’s. She suffered slight injuries and stayed at the scene.

Chris and Rachael wrote in a joint statement: “We must now look forward. Louis wouldn’t want us to be sad or give up. Louis will live on. His legacy, that one day no one will have to deal with the death of a child on Britain’s roads.

“Please, if you are in any doubt of your ability, don’t get in the car. If you have any doubts about your parents, relatives or love ones’ ability to drive then please talk to them.

“The consequences are serious, real, and they last forever; having a simple conversation can literally save someone’s life.”

In July 2021, Cambridgeshire County Council confirmed the speed limit on the A10 where baby Louis was killed would be reduced from 50 to 40mph.

Detective Sergeant Mark Dollard, from the road policing unit at Cambridgeshire Constabulary said: “This was an extremely tragic and sad incident and our deepest condolences go out to Louis’ family.

“We carried out a thorough and exhaustive inquiry. Regardless of the verdict nothing will ever bring Louis back and his family will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

“It is however, a stark reminder of how important it is for anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle to be competent and capable of driving safely.

“I would urge anyone who is concerned about a family member or friend and their ability to drive to speak up and discuss your concerns with your loved one. Alternatively speak to your GP who can submit their concerns to the DVLA.”

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