A pedestrian was killed when she was hit by a tipper truck as she tried to use an unmarked and unlit crossing across a main road in the dark, an inquest has heard.

Sally Ann Horton was just 220 metres from a footbridge at Brynsworthy Lane, Barnstaple, but could not use it because it was across fields from her home and there was no path.

She was walking to work at 7.30am on January 10 this year when she was hit as she tried to cross the busy A39 Barnstaple to Bideford road to get to her job at an electrical factory on the Roundswell industrial estate.

Sally crossed into the middle of the road while looking for a gap in the rush hour Barnstaple-bound traffic and may not have realised she was standing in other carriageway rather than on the white line.

She was wearing dark clothing without reflective markings and the driver of the tipper truck had less that two seconds to react after seeing her in the road directly in front of his windscreen.

The new bridge over the A39 at Roundswell in Barnstaple.The new bridge over the A39 at Roundswell in Barnstaple.

It is likely she was looking the other way and did not see the tipper truck approaching her because she was wearing dark clothing a coat with a hood.

The inquest at County Hall, Exeter, concluded that divorcee Sally, aged 59, of Brynsworthy, Barnstaple, died as a result of receiving unsurvivable multiple injuries sustained in a road accident.

Coroner Mr Philip Spinney urged Devon County Council to review safety at the crossing but a representative from the Highways Department told him it was impossible to create a path to the footbridge because the intervening fields are private farmland.

The coroner said: "We have heard about the footbridge in the evidence of the collision investigator, who said it did not afford any practical access to those living in Brynsworthy Lane.

Floral tributes at the scene of the collision on the A39.Floral tributes at the scene of the collision on the A39.

"I would ask the local authority to consider the geography of the area and look at the fact there is no footpath along the A39 to the footbridge. I urge the local authority to keep the area under review and look at any other collisions in the area."

Drivers who were heading for Barnstaple said they saw a person in dark clothing in the road just before the collision and then tried to give her first aid at the scene.

Some had seen other people crossing at the same spot and considered it a dangerous place to do so.

Tipper driver David Murray said: "There was a figure in the carriageway right in front of me, inches away from me. I braked as hard as I could. I literally stood on the brakes.

"I collided with her. There was no time to react or any way to avoid the impact. It was a split second from seeing her to colliding with her."

Collision investigator PC Malcolm Passmore said the Isuzu Grifter tipper truck was going at 50mph and obeying the speed limit and a reconstruction showed the driver would have had about 1.6 seconds to react.

Mr Murray gave a negative breath test, passed an eyesight test, and had not been using a mobile phone. No police action was taken against him.

Sally may have been wearing a head torch, which was found at the scene, but was looking the other way at the time of the collision.

Mark Overthrow, a fellow resident at Brynsworthy Manor, where Sally had recently moved into her own flat, said she was a former retained firefighter who always used a head torch and normally wore reflective clothing.

At the time of her death, Sally's mother Lesley Horton, and other members of her family, issued a tribute through the police.

It said: "Sally Ann Horton was a beloved daughter, wife, partner, mum, sister, niece and aunt. Sally always lit a room up whenever she walked in. She will be sadly missed by all who knew her."