Janet Purkess was hit by quayside truck at Bridgetown, Barbados

A HAMPSHIRE pensioner enjoying a sunshine cruise was killed in a quayside accident caused by "systemic failures" at a Caribbean port. Janet Purkess was hit by an "unsafe" truck being driven by someone who was not licensed to operate the vehicle, a pre-inquest review hearing was told. The truck was not sounding a reversing alarm and had no rear view mirrors, it was alleged.

Mrs Purkess, 87, of Gosport Lane, Lyndhurst, was killed after the Saga Sapphire made an unscheduled stop at Bridgetown, Barbados, on January 25. Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said: "Various managers at the port should have communicated the fact that a ship would be putting in and passengers would be disembarking.

"It would appear that arrangements were not in place. "Saga would normally have been met by security officers at the port to ensure the safety of passengers off the ship. These people didn't come.

"There was a complete systemic failure in the way things were organised. It wasn't just the failure of one or two individuals. "By all accounts if the proper measures had been put in place the accident could have been avoided."

Mrs Purkess had just left the ship when she was hit by the truck, which was reversing "very quickly". Janet Purkess was hit by quayside truck at Bridgetown, Barbados Mrs Rhodes-Kemp said: "She disembarked with other passengers and for whatever reason ended up not on the prescribed walkway but in the main traffic area outside the ship.

"She was knocked over by a truck that was reversing without an alarm. It had no mirrors and no other way of detecting her presence. "The vehicle wasn't really fit for purpose, given the job it was it was doing.

It wasn't really safe in the circumstances." Referring to the driver she said his licence to operate heavy vehicles had expired. The inquest into the death of Mrs Purkess is unlikely to be held until April or May of next year.

Ms Rhodes-Kemp said: "We are slightly hindered by the fact that a lot of the evidence emanates from Barbados.

"It's always more difficult to get documents from other countries."

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