LEVERINGTON: Exclusive family pictures taken just moments before mum and daughter were killed

PUBLISHED: 17:29 01 May 2008 | UPDATED: 08:27 02 June 2010

Mum and daughter seconds before they were killed

Mum and daughter seconds before they were killed

EXCLUSIVE Wisbech Standard report MINUTES after this photograph was taken young mum Stephanie Ward, of Leverington, lay dead after being hit by a car. Her four-year-old daughter Samantha Ford died later in hospital. Samantha s grandfather heard the accid

Picture from the family album

EXCLUSIVE Wisbech Standard report

MINUTES after this photograph was taken young mum Stephanie Ward, of Leverington, lay dead after being hit by a car. Her four-year-old daughter Samantha Ford died later in hospital.

Samantha's grandfather heard the accident which happened just yards from the family home and rushed to the scene, cradling the youngster in his arms until help arrived.

Stephanie and Samantha had just left home to go trick or treating. They were accompanied by a friend and her daughter riding a horse.

Another happy family picture

Six months after the Halloween night tragedy it has been announced that no criminal action will be taken against the 18-year-old driver who was arrested at the time on suspicion of dangerous driving.

Miss Ward's father, Barry Ward, has instructed a solicitor to take civil action against the driver and the family are to lodge a complaint against the police over its handling of the investigation.

An inquest held on Monday recorded a verdict of accidental death and afterwards Mr Ward said: "This accident has ripped us all apart. We are all devastated."

Great grandmother Lila Ford, who also lives in Leverington, said: "Life will never be the same for any of us. This has been the most horrendous six months of our lives."

A poignant reminder for the family

See below for the full tragic story:

FAMILY'S HEART BREAK AFTER MOTHER AND DAUGHTER KILLED

THE heartbroken family of a mother and daughter, who died after they were in collision with a car while walking along a Fenland road, may pursue a complaint against the police over the handling of the investigation.

Stephanie Ward, 24, was pushing her four year-old daughter Samantha Ford in a pushchair, while walking with a friend leading a horse and rider, when they were involved in a collision with a Peugeot 306 last October.

Picture from the family album

Miss Ward died at the scene and, despite the best efforts by paramedics and doctors, the pretty youngster passed away a few hours later at hospital.

Samantha's grandfather Gareth Ford, who had heard the accident which was just yards from the family home in Leverington Common, rushed to the scene and held his little granddaughter in his arms until the emergency services arrived.

Six months after the case the Crown Prosecution Service announced that they would not be taking criminal action against the 18-year-old driver of the Peugeot, who was arrested at the time on suspicion of dangerous driving.

Barry Ward, the father of Miss Ward, is however planning to take civil action against the driver and has instructed a solicitor. The family is also planning to put in a complaint against the police over their handling of the investigation.

An inquest was held on Monday and the verdict was recorded as accidental death.

Richard Crowley, the chief crown prosecutor of Cambridgeshire and the reviewing lawyer, met Mr Ward to explain the decision in the case.

A spokesman for the CPS said: "A file of evidence was received by the CPS and after careful consideration a decision was reached and communicated to the family in February. That decision was that no prosecution would result.

"The CPS attended the inquest on Monday to observe evidence given by witnesses and thereafter re-reviewed the case again. The CPS concluded that the evidence is insufficient to satisfy the Code for Crown Prosecutors that there is a realistic prospect of conviction for any criminal offence."

Mr Ward said: "We have instructed solicitors for civil action and this is in process at the moment. We are also considering a complaint against the police."

He said of his daughter and granddaughter: "They were very loving and very happy as a family. Stephanie was in the process of starting a riding stable and they were all deliriously happy. This accident has ripped all of us apart, we are all devastated."

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said: "A thorough and detailed investigation was undertaken and a file was presented to the CPS and the coroner."

He also said that if the force received a complaint it would be dealt with in the normal way.

The accident happened on Wednesday October 31 last year at about 5.55pm. Miss Ward and her daughter were going out trick or treating with another friend and her nine-year-old daughter.

The adults had placed novelty glow sticks on the horse and Miss Ward had been wearing a reflective jacket. The children had been dressed in Halloween outfits.

Gareth Ford, Junior, Miss Ward's partner, had taken a picture of the four and the horse Cassie just moments before they left home to head towards the village centre.

Miss Ward was walking with Samantha in a pushchair. The friend was leading the horse and the nine-year-old girl was riding it.

However, they had only walked a short distance from their home when they were in a collision with the car.

Evidence given in the inquest said that Miss Ward would have been walking in front of the horse and the friend at the time of the collision, and would therefore have been obscured to traffic heading in the same direction.

Collision investigator, PC Pete Bimson, said: "It is likely that the high visibility jacket could have been obscured to eastbound traffic from the presence of the other pedestrian and pony."

The inquest had been told that the friend, after she had given a police statement, later remembered two other cars had passed prior to the accident.

The mother of the driver of the car, who was travelling in the vehicle at the time, said her son had not been driving fast and that they had not seen anything on the road prior to the collision. The first she knew was when the car hit something.

Miss Ward's partner Gareth and his father, also named Gareth, heard the collision and rushed to the tragic scene.

Mr Ford Jnr and Miss Ward met when they were just 14, and had lived at their home in Leverington for the last two years. They had moved to the area some years prior with their families.

Little Samantha attended the local pre-school where she was making good progress and had lots of friends.

Samantha's great grandmother, Lila Ford, 79, who also lives in Leverington, said: "We just feel it was not investigated properly by the police.

"Stephanie was a girl with a heart of gold. She never had a bad word to say or a bad thought about anyone.

"Samantha was a lovely little girl. She had an amazing vocabulary for a four-year-old and was incredible, a lovely child and so polite."

Close to tears, she added: "This accident has ripped three families apart. Life will never be the same for any of us. This has been the most horrendous six months of our lives."

Flowers and teddies had been left at the scene of the accident, but Mrs Ford said they had since been removed because the family found it too painful to see them each day.

The family also had to pass the scene on a daily basis and now Mr Ford Jnr has returned to live in London as he could not deal with the anguish of being reminded of the accident every time he left his house.


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