Widower of woman killed at Bedford road crossing – “I’ve lost my best friend and soul mate”

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Shama Kalyan. Image provided by Irwin Mitchell

The widower of a Bedford woman killed by a bus driver has spoken of his heartbreak at losing his “best friend and soul mate.”

Shama Kalyan was 54 at the time she was knocked down by a bus on a light-controlled pedestrian crossing at Ampthill Road in Bedford on 18 December 2017.

She sustained catastrophic injuries and died in hospital a month later, having never regained consciousness.

At the time of her death, Shama and Mohan had been married for 35 years and had three children, Ajay, 35, Anu, 31, and Harish, 29.

“My whole life was shattered when I lost Shama, and nothing has been the same since then,” said Mohan.

“Three years on, I still struggle with thoughts of what happened that day and I feel so empty when I think about Shama not being here anymore; she was my whole life.

“I’m so lucky to have my children as they are the reason I keep going. However they have also suffered badly.”

Plea change

At a hearing earlier this year, the driver of the bus, Mr Paul Udris, employed by Cambus Limited, changed his plea to guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

Yesterday (17 December), he was sentenced at Luton Crown Court to a 15-month jail term with half to be served in custody and the other half on licence.

Udris, of Harewood Road, Bedford was also disqualified from driving for 10 years, with an extended retest.

Following the sentencing hearing, Mohan added: “While I am grateful that the prosecution is over and the person responsible has been sentenced, it doesn’t bring Shama back, and it hurts to know that to take a life results in a sentence of only 15 months.

“As we live so close to where Shama was hit, we are regularly reminded of how she was tragically taken from us, and I can’t put into words how much we miss her every single day.

“I haven’t just lost my wife, I have lost my best friend and soul mate, and our children are without their loving mum who would support and care for them through everything.

“She was the centre of our family life, and an important part of our community in Bedford, helping out at the Temple and doing a lot of voluntary and charity work. She will be missed by many people.”

Neil Whiteley, partner and specialist road accident lawyer at Irwin Mitchell represented Shama’s loved ones. Speaking after the hearing, he said: “It’s been almost three years since Shama died, and her family remain devastated after losing her so suddenly and tragically.

“Mohan, in particular, is still struggling to come to terms with what happened. Sadly, through our work we come across many families devastated by road accidents which are often avoidable.

“While nothing can change what Mohan and his family have been through, they are relieved that the prosecution is now at a close.

“We also hope that the sentence acts as a warning to others of the consequences of dangerous driving.”

Glare of the sun had not been a contributory factor

Passing sentence judge Bishop said: “This offence has caused the tragic death of Mrs Kalyan with all the consequential loss to her family and in particular her husband of 33 years.

“No sentence I can pass can restore to the family what they have lost and everyone in court will want to extend their condolences to the husband and his family.”

Oliver Renton, defending, said a number of passengers on board the bus that day had spoken of the glare from the sun, with one describing it as “low, bright and dazzling.”

He told the court that Udris at the time had been experiencing the stress and strains of caring for his elderly father who had dementia, which could have affected his concentration that day.

Mr Renton said that even one of the investigating police officers had referred to the driver that day as “Looking without seeing.”

The court was told he had lost his job as a bus driver as a result of what happened and now doesn’t think he will ever work again.

The judge said the examination of the CCTV footage from the bus showed that as it approached the crossing, it was in shade and therefore the glare of the sun had not been a contributory factor.

He said the view of a doctor who had prepared a report for the case was that Udris showed traits for a schizoid personality disorder which affected his ability to cope with stress and could lead to lapses in concentration.

Additional reporting by
South Beds News Agency court reporter

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