Polish pensioner, 83, who survived Nazi horrors of WWII 'killed by lorry while visiting family'

Polish pensioner, 83, who survived Nazi horrors during Second World War was killed by lorry near Harrods, inquest hears

  • Daniela Raczowska was hit by DAF truck carrying gas canisters in Knightsbridge
  • Lorry driver Nicolae Duicic said he didn’t realise he had struck the pensioner 
  • She crossed while lights flashed green for pedestrians and amber for vehicles 
  • The 83-year-old endured food shortages in Soviet and Nazi occupied Poland




Daniela Raczkowska died after being hit by a lorry in Knightsbridge, west London

A Polish pensioner who survived the horrors of the Second World War was killed by a lorry near Harrods while visiting her family in London, an inquest heard.

Daniela Raczowska, 83, was hit by a DAF truck carrying gas canisters on January 18 while crossing between the junction of Brompton Road and Brompton Square in Knightsbridge.

Lorry driver Nicolae Duicic had turned on his interior light and checked his clipboard moments before the collision, Westminster Coroner’s Court heard.

Mr Duicic was in the middle of three lanes of traffic and Ms Raczowska crossed his path while the lights were flashing green for pedestrians, and amber for vehicles.

Ms Raczowska was a devout Christian who endured hardship and food shortages during her early years in Poland under Nazi and then Soviet rule, the inquest heard.

She went on to work as a teacher with a particular interest in history, politics and British culture after her family moved to London.

Coroner Russell Caller said: ‘Ms Raczowska was a highly respected lady and we have heard about her difficulties of living through the Second World War and surviving communism, yet maintaining her family and husband.

‘Coming through all that is a highly intelligent lady who gave everything to her family and was able to enjoy in later life history, culture and her family.

‘I am struck by her love for her family, her character and determination – a remarkable lady and someone the family can be very proud of.

‘Sadly, Ms Raczowska made her way across Brompton Road when she was hit by a lorry which caused multiple trauma and death.

‘On the balance of probabilities this was simply an accident, an accidental death. There is no blame on the driver.

Polish pensioner, 83, who survived Nazi horrors of WWII 'killed by lorry while visiting family'

Ms Raczowska was struck and killed as she crossed the junction of Brompton Road and Brompton Square near Harrods (the department store pictured in a file image)

‘I confirm Ms Raczowska died as a result of multiple trauma and the conclusion is that it was accidental.’

Mr Duciuc claimed Ms Raczowska was out of view despite checking his mirrors and was completely unaware of what happened before members of the public raised the alarm.

He said: ‘I was waiting at the traffic lights. I waited until amber came, it flashed eight times, at the ninth time I checked the mirror, I took the handbrake off then I started moving.

‘The lorry takes a long time to move.

I didn’t seen anything, I didn’t feel nothing.

‘I then started moving and two to three seconds later I heard a man shouting and pointing to the back of the vehicle.

‘I put the window down and he said to me ”there is a man on the floor behind you”, something like that. 

‘He said ”look behind you”, a lady and a man then started pushing me saying ”go away, go away”. 

‘The lady said to me ”she started walking from behind you, she stepped in front of you, it was hard to see”.

Mr Duciuc added that Ms Raczowska started walking across the road then got scared when the traffic in the other lanes started to move, so she turned around by walked into the path of the truck. 

He told the court: ‘She [Ms Raczowska] got scared because the cars on the right-hand side started to move.

‘She turned around to go back to the same place from where she came, but she stepped in front of me.

I swear I didn’t see her.’

Polish pensioner, 83, who survived Nazi horrors of WWII 'killed by lorry while visiting family'

The junction where Brompton Road meets Brompton Square  in west London seen (above) in a stock image

Ms Raczowska was wearing dark clothing and moving at a ‘slow jog’ pace when she was hit, the court heard.

PC Simon Palmer, who was one of the officer’s at the scene, told the court Mr Duciuc had a clipboard in front of him near the steering wheel when he started moving. 

said: ‘There’s been a substantial analysis of the CCTV available to the driver which is perhaps the crux of this matter.

‘The lorry was equipped with a dash-cam from the top which gave a wide angle view of the front of the vehicle

‘We also had second CCTV evidence from a bus which was travelling in the same direction as the lorry.

‘Mr Duciuc turned on his interior light, picked up a clipboard and held it in front of him by the steering board.

‘He held it for one second before the lights changed to flashing amber.

‘We know from CCTV that Ms Raczowska entered the road as Mr Duciuc returned the clipboard.

‘She entered the road from the outside, from the south of the crossing and behind the driver’s eyeline.

‘She headed diagonally from the point she stepped off the curb.

Around 1.7 seconds after Ms Raczowska entered the road, Mr Duciuc started to move off.’

The coroner probed PC Palmer on the actions of Mr Duciuc, who moved off from a stationary position with his interior light still on.

PC Palmer replied: ‘The highway code says that vehicles during the flashing amber stage may proceed with caution.

‘The highway code is not specific, it says you should use mirrors constantly throughout the journey.

‘It says to avoid distractions during driving such as trying to read maps.

‘Immediately before setting off Mr Duciuc looked at the clipboard which was a poor decision.

‘However it is my view a driver could have paid maximum attention and still failed to see Ms Raczowska.’

Coroner Russell Caller gave a a verdict of accidental death.

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