Five members of County Durham family died on stretch of road ‘notorious’ for accidents

The Cockburn family from Chester-le-Street died when their car collided with a lorry on the A18 in Lincolnshire in April 2013

5 MARCH 2016 | BY PETER CRAIG FOR CHRONICLE LIVE



No safety improvements were made on a stretch of road where five members of a County Durham family died - despite a serious crash months earlier.

David and Angela Cockburn, their two daughters Carley Ann and Bethany and grand daughter Lacie Jade Stephenson, from Chester-le-Street, died in April 2013 when their Nissan Primera was involved in a collision with a HGV on the A18 in Lincolnshire.

Site visit at the infamous Barton Street in North East Lincolnshire

Site visit during the inquest into the deaths of the Cockburn family, who died in a car crash

Natasha Peart crashed her Fiat 500 in January 2013 on the same stretch of the A18 that the Cockburn family were killed the following April.

Miss Peart said she had left the road on the left hand verge of the A18 as she made her way to work at The Halfway House, North Thoresby, on January 10, 2013.

She said the headlights of an on-coming lorry had dazzled her around 6.15pm.

She veered her car to the left but lost control.

Her vehicle spun around twice and ended up in the hedgerow on the opposite side of the road, missing a line of cars on the opposite carriageway.

She told the inquest she had gone into a gully on the roadside.

At the inquest into the family’s death taking place in Cleethorpes Town Hall, PC Mark Boyd, who investigated Miss Peart’s crash, said he saw no gully on the verge of the road that required the road to be closed for repair.

Miss Peart said: “I tried to correct it and turned a few times, luckily missing traffic and ended up on the opposite verge, diagonally in a hedge.”

She said: “I did not use that road for a while afterwards. It was a few months before I drove along it and imagined how it had happened. I did not stop to look.”

She added: “It seems a very narrow road to me. It could do with being wider each way.”

She described herself as a “confident but cautious driver.”

She said: “It is known for accidents. It is quite a famous road. It is notorious.

“I was careful before. I am more careful now.”

PC Boyd, who has since retired, said he walked the length of the stretch of road where the single vehicle collision took place but saw no reason to close the road.

He told the inquest he carried out a thorough examination of the route and did not see a gully, only soft verge.

The officer said in his report that the motorist had left the road and lost control due to her “relative inexperience.”

He told the inquest: “Her perception of the lorry was closer than it was.”

The inquest heard he filled in the relevant forms on the collision record form, but made no recommendation for repairs or road closure.

The officer said the carriageway was in tact, with no debris on the road, nor potholes.

The forms he filled in were then passed to the collision records department of Humberside Police.

Mr Boyd said the form requiring local highways authority action was not filled in because there was no damage to any street furniture.

The officer said he had driven the A18 thousands of times and never drifted on to the verge.

He was questioned by the solicitor for the Cockburn family, Gail Farrington, who suggested to the officer the road was “dangerous.”

Mr Boyd said: “It is an inanimate object. How can it be dangerous? It is only by the people using it.”

Sergeant Chris Wright explained to the inquest what happens to forms filled in for the collision records department at Humberside Police.

He told how he had no reason to query the collision record filled in by PC Boyd as he was “an absolute professional and experienced officer” with whom he had worked on a number of collision investigations.

Inspector Maxine Teasdale of the Humberside Police Roads Policing Team said the system of reporting collisions had improved since the tragedy.

The inquest continues next week.

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