A RUNAWAY school van mounted a pavement and ran down a Filipino maid while its driver was making a quick visit to the toilet, an inquest heard yesterday. Dastas Pascuala, 37, who was with her employer's son at the time, died after suffering a 35-centimetre fracture to her skull. The driver, Irene Lam, told Coroner Rodney Venning that she pulled up the hand-brake fully and engaged the van in first gear but left the key in the ignition before she went to the toilet. But fireman Wong Kwok-leung, who was called to the scene, said he found the hand-brake was not pulled up fully. ''It was partly off. When I pulled it to maximum position there were two clicks,'' he said. The incident took place on the afternoon of March 10 in Shan Kwong Road, Happy Valley, when Ms Lam went to pick up secondary schoolgirls from Po Kwok Girls' School. Ms Lam, who had been driving school vans for eight years, said she parked the vehicle on a slight slope. She got out and chatted with some of the students, who said they wanted to go to the toilet. She told them to hurry. She closed the van door but did not lock it and dashed off to the toilet herself. When she returned about three minutes later, the van was not where she had parked it. Asked how the van could have moved if she had left it the way she said she had, Ms Lam said: ''I have no idea. I cannot explain.'' The van was last serviced in July last year. Dr Chu Sai-man said the deceased was brought to Queen Mary Hospital unconscious. She was bleeding from her nostrils and ear and a fracture was located at the base of her skull. She had a cardiac arrest and died about three hours later. Van driver Law Wai-chiu recalled that when he heard shouts he jumped out of his van and chased the runaway vehicle, but he could not catch it. He saw the van cut across Shan Kwong Road and mount a pavement on which two people were walking. He shouted to them to get away quickly. His view was then obstructed but he later saw two people lying on the ground. He also saw two people seated in the runaway van. Leung Sze-kin, 15, who was the first to board the van, said Ms Lam told her not to tamper with anything before she left for the toilet. Her friend, Tam Shun-chi, 12, then arrived and they chatted inside the van. Sze-kin decided to move seats and sat in the front next to the drivers' seat to ''get the feel of it''. She denied that she had touched the gears. She told coroner's officer Fanny Wong that during her conversation with Shun-chi, she felt the van roll forward and soon it knocked down a woman and a boy. She and her friend were helped out of the van by police after the accident. She sustained injuries to her nose, while Shun-chi hurt her leg. Sze-kin said Shun-chi never touched anything in the van. She confirmed that neither she nor Shun-chi had sat in the driver's seat. She did not know the function of a hand-brake. The inquest continues.