A POPULAR West Bromwich Albion steward was killed after stepping into the Wolverhampton New Road and giving the driver who ran him over just 0.8 seconds to avoid him.

Yesterday (Wednesday) an inquest heard how Mick Hodgetts, aged 54, suffered fatal head and brain injuries when he was struck by a Fiat Punto on the evening of Saturday, October 5 last year.

The inquest at Sandwell Coroners Court was told Mr Hodgetts had just stepped off the 126 bus, had been drinking that night and stepped into the road in front of the bus when he was struck.

Parmjit Bains, who was driving the Fiat Punto involved in the collision told the inquest he had been driving under the 40mph speed limit.

Mr Bains, aged 26, said he was on his way to work at a bar in Birmingham at the time.

He said the first time he saw Mr Hodgetts was at the point of impact: "It was very quick, I didn't have the opportunity to do anything. I didn't have time to break."

PC Katrina Hall, who investigated the accident said she was confident that Mr Bains had not been speeding and said evidence shows he was travelling between 28-33mph.

She said Mr Hodgetts would only have been visible to Mr Bains for 0.8seconds and added: "He had no time to react."

Senior coroner for the Black Country, Robin Balmain, said Mr Hodgetts, a forklift driver had died as a result of the collision.

He added: "The circumstances are tragic but it is clear Mr Hodgetts had been drinking, which he was entitled to as he wasn't driving.

"He got off the bus and needed to cross the road but for some reason we will never know, he decided to cross in front of the bus and as he did so, was involved in a collision.

"Evidence suggests there was nothing at all unusual or improper about the manner of driving. I conclude death was due to a road traffic collision."

Mr Hodgetts was assistant chief steward at The Hawthorns for several years and fans and staff at the club led tributes to him when he died.

Mark Miles, WBA’s head of facility operations and development, paid tribute to Mr Hodgetts.

He said: "Mick was an integral part of our matchday operation and our thoughts are always with his family and friends.”