Fashion designer

Aspiring pregnant fashion designer, 26, killed by police while driving at more than three times the speed limit for an “urgent” call


An aspiring fashion designer has died after being hit by a police car at over three times the speed limit on an “urgent” report from someone wanting to start a fight.

Pregnant woman Luam Gebremariam, who had moved to the UK to ‘make her dream come true’, was killed in east London after being hit with such force by a police car it cut her spine vertebral.

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Luam Gebremariam was pregnant when she was hit by a police car and diedCredit: Jamie Lorriman
Tributes left behind to the aspiring fashion designer on Forest Road, East London

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Tributes left behind to the aspiring fashion designer on Forest Road, East LondonCredit: London News Pictures

The driver, Sergeant Martin Delisa, was responding to reports that someone was threatening to start a brawl at The Duke pub when he punched the 26-year-old shortly after midnight on January 23, 2019.

Because he was heading towards an incident deemed “urgent”, Sgt Delisa was traveling at 60mph in a 20mph zone along Forest Road with his blue lights flashing.

He had seen a man crossing the street before he saw Miss Gebremariam on the road, by then it was too late.

An autopsy showed Miss Gebremariam was pregnant and had undergone an “internal decapitation” – meaning she would have immediately passed out and CPR was unlikely to save her.

Jonathan Collins, who crossed the road moments before the crash, said the officer driving must have dismounted because the car appeared to be some distance away.

Speaking during the Barking town hall investigation, he said: “A man was shouting something like ‘you killed her, you were driving way too fast” and the officer replied something like “no, I wasn’t”.

“It was like they had had a little confrontation, although I thought it was quite strange.

Friends of Miss Gebremariam's family gathered at the crash scene after her death in 2019

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Friends of Miss Gebremariam’s family gathered at the crash scene after her death in 2019Credit: London News Pictures

“Afterward, the officer seemed to walk down the road a bit as if he was panicking.”

Sgt Delisa was legally authorized to exceed the speed limit as he was responding to an incident.

Asked by East London Coroner Graeme Irvine if he believed he could have done anything to prevent the crash, Sergeant Delisa said no.

He described how he saw Mr. Collins “cross the road” without “warning” and thus “follow his way with his head to make sure he was safe”.

Speaking during the investigation, Sgt Delisa said, “As I pulled my head back, that’s when I saw her. I heard the bang (hit the car), it was almost immediate.

“She was up front, my vision was completely obscured and she was looking at me through the windshield directly.”

Dean Brown, of the Independent Office for Police Driving, said Sergeant Delisa was driving at a “reasonable and proportionate” speed given the urgent call.

She grew up in Ethiopia and was active, bright and entertained the family. She was interested in the world of fashion but could not have the chance to develop her interest with education because there was none.

Kassa Habteab

Miss Gebremariam was said to have been on the road less than a second before the crash, PC Michael Seymour, a forensic collision investigator, told the hearing.

PC Seymour said: “His reaction time was between a tenth of a second and a second after Miss Gebremariam entered the road, certainly within the timeframe we would expect from an alert driver.

“Due to the distance and the time available, there was nothing he could do to avoid this collision.

“It should be noted, however, that if Miss Gebremariam had stayed on the sidewalk and waited for the car to pass or used the crosswalk, the collision would not have occurred.”

After hearing the testimony, the jury returned a verdict of death by “road collision”.

Miss Gebremariam, an Eritrean refugee, had passed through Ethiopia, Sudan and Libya before crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach the United Kingdom where she wanted to pursue a career in fashion, her brother told the inquiry.

Kassa Habteab described her sister, the youngest of four children, as “the most beloved of the family” and said she had gone through “a lot of hardship” to come to this country and “fulfill her dream”.

He said: “She grew up in Ethiopia and was active, bright and entertained the family.

“She was excellent in her school and always studied hard.

“She was interested in the world of fashion but could not have the chance to develop her interest with education because there was none.

“She was eager to help the family, as I had been the sole source of income since the death of the oldest child.”


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