This is the first picture of the damaged Audi A4 car, driven by a heavily pregnant mum, which was flattened by a tree causing the death of an unborn baby.

Liz Stear was due to give birth to her baby daughter when the large horse chestnut branch collapsed onto her vehicle, smashing through the windscreen and thudding into her abdomen.

The baby, named Lucia, was just 15 hours old when she died in hospital following the incident on November 10, 2016, as she drove along Arrowe Park Road, close to the hospital.

Now, after a jury blasted Wirral Borough Council for a catalogue of failures which included - doing nothing to address an earlier tree fall, around two years earlier in 2015, which might have prevented the tragedy - the local authority said improvements and changes have been made.

 

A spokesman said: "On behalf of Wirral Council, I would like to express my sincerest sympathies to Mr and Mrs Stear and all their family as a result of the tragic death of Lucia in November 2016.

The scene of the tragic accident on Arrowe Park Road
The scene of the tragic accident on Arrowe Park Road

“The issues that have been found as a result of the investigation that followed Lucia’s death have led to substantial investment by Wirral Council and detailed actions being identified as a result.

"Improvements and changes have already been made and will continue to be implemented.”

 

The ECHO contacted the Health and Safety Executive who may now launch a criminal prosecution following the inquest jury's findings.

A spokesman for the HSE said: "Our investigation is ongoing.”

Lucia died as a result of an "accident", which was contributed by the local authority "not having a proactive, robust, tree management system in place for Parks and Countryside up to November 2016."

Wirral Council has apologised for a catalogue of failings which led to the tree collapsing
Wirral Council has apologised for a catalogue of failings which led to the tree collapsing

The inquest verdict added: "There was a complete failure to have a policy in place for tree management in Parks and Countryside, and a complete lack of risk management for trees at risk of falling onto highways.

"There had been no formal inspection of trees in Arrowe Park for 13 years previously."

A jury also agreed that the horse chestnut tree which fell on Mrs Stear's car was clearly riddled with "bleeding canker" which would have been evident for the past four years.

 

The verdict said: "There was inadequate training of Parks and Countryside staff with regard to tree management and identifying tree hazards, there was no programme of mandatory, ongoing training and there was no arboricultural officer employed by Wirrral Borough Council since 2003."

Finally, the jury found, "there was a systemic lack of accountability and poor communication within and between departments in Wirral Borough Council."

The mum-of-three said felt a "niggly period-type pain" when she was in the ambulance, and repeatedly asked to be taken to the hospital, just yards from where the accident happened.

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The parent, whose two other children were in the car at the time, was instead taken to Aintree Hospital.

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Lucia had suffered multi organ failure and died at 01.11am on 11th November 2016.