A VAN driver is accused of ‘reversing at speed’ into a retired academic in North Oxford, causing her heart to stop beating.

Leigh Kuenhel, 47, is on trial at Oxford Crown Court charged with causing serious injury to Dr Shirley Pike by dangerous driving on August 4, 2022.

The Ford Connect van driver is accused of knocking down the 90-year-old retired academic at the junction of Woodstock and Osberton roads in North Oxford after missing his turning.

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Dr Pike was crossing the road behind Kuenhel when she was struck, requiring resuscitation before being rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington.

Kuenhel, of Elizabeth Avenue, Newbury, has denied the offence.

He has also pleaded not guilty to causing serious injury by careless driving which is an alternative charge for the jury to consider.

The case was opened in court on Tuesday (April 23), where it was heard that in the early evening, Kuenhel was travelling south on the Woodstock Road.

He had intended to turn into Obserton Road but realised he had missed his turning so had decided to stop and reverse so he could make the turn.

Meanwhile, Dr Pike had just got off the northbound 300 park-and-ride bus and was waiting to cross the road.

After Kuenhel had passed in his golden van, Dr Pike made the crossing and was struck by the van as it was reversing.

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People passing by were quick to aid Dr Pike whose heart had stopped.

She also suffered from rib fractures, both her lungs were punctured, her skull was broken and she suffered from a liver injury.

As she was taken to hospital, Kuenhel was interviewed by police at the scene and again at a police station.

Oxford Mail: Dr Shirley Pike was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital Dr Shirley Pike was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital He told officers that he had checked his wing mirrors and had ‘seen nothing of Dr Pike’ so started his manoeuvre.

He added that his van has a reversing camera but it needed to be manually turned on, which he claimed he had not.

Kuenhel said that the van also has parking sensors but stated they didn’t sound before hitting Dr Pike.

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Police arranged an inspection of the vehicle and stated the camera was working and should have been automatic as well as confirming the parking sensors were working.

Prosecuting the case, a barrister for the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Mr Kuenhel must have been paying so little attention to what was behind him while he was reversing at speed on a main road that he missed Dr Pike and so struck her.”

The trial, which is expected to last two to three days, continues.