Road claims third victim in one year

A TEENAGER has become the third person in a year to be killed on a notorious North-East road.

A TEENAGER has become the third person in a year to be killed on a notorious North-East road.

The 18-year-old was the front passenger in a Ford Fiesta which smashed into a tree off Fellside Road in Whickham, Gateshead, on Tuesday evening.

And as news of another life lost on the road filtered through the surrounding area yesterday, local people joined their MP in calling for new measures to be taken to avoid repeats.

The teenager, who has not yet been named, was taken to Gateshead’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

The 18-year-old driver was cut free from the wreckage by fire crews and taken to the same hospital where he underwent surgery for a broken leg. His condition was yesterday described as comfortable.

Two young men in the back of the car escaped from the vehicle with minor injuries.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the crash, which happened at around 6.40pm between the Woodman’s Arms and Whickham Golf Club.

Members at the club have long been concerned about what president Bill Hopper called “a death which was waiting to happen”.

Club secretary John Davidson wrote to Gateshead Council, Northumbria Police and Blaydon MP Dave Anderson in May detailing a number of road accidents and near misses outside the club’s gates.

Mr Hopper said: “We are not happy that it has taken such a tragic death to raise the issue. Almost every member has a story to tell about an accident or a near-accident.

“How many more fatalities will there be before something is done? It was a death that was waiting to happen.

“I’m sure I speak for everyone at the club when I say our thoughts are with the girl’s family.”

Mr Anderson also spoke out about the need to consider new measures. He said: “To a lay person it looks like reducing the speed limit would be the answer but I’m not telling people how to do their jobs. It’s a tragic loss of life and I will the raising the matter with the council on Friday.”

Three fire crews cut the driver and the young woman from the car.

Sergeant Nigel Dance, of Gateshead motor patrols, said: “There is an investigation ongoing into the cause of the crash. That will take into account factors such as the road itself, the surface, the speed and any potential deficiencies with the vehicle.”

But he said: “The road itself is not dangerous. It’s how you drive on it. The road is an unlit rural road. It is important that drivers adapt to the circumstances.”

In May, the local authority began a traffic and speed management review of the area. Head of Transport and Highways at Gateshead Council, Nick Clennett, said: “We have had serious concerns about the number of accidents on Fellside Road for some time. We have already carried out a lot of work over the years to improve road safety, such as introducing improved road markings, erecting additional warning signs and applying anti-skid surfacing to certain bends to encourage motorists to slow down.

“Earlier this year, we began another major traffic and speed management review of the area, looking at the road's accident history and undertaking speed surveys. That review is still ongoing, but its findings are likely to inform future work to encourage motorists to drive more safely along Fellside Road.”

Witnesses to the crash are asked to ring police on 0191 221 9540.

In December last year, 40-year-old David Milburn died on the road when he lost control of his car and last November, a 31-year-old man died in a crash.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Grieving mother makes safety appeal

THE family of a nine-year-old boy killed when he was knocked off his bike by a car launched a road safety campaign yesterday.

Ryan Marshall was killed in June last year when he was riding through Bearpark village in Durham.

He was hit by a van, and then by a car coming in the opposite direction.

His mother, Anna Sigsworth, gave her backing yesterday to the Let Kids Live campaign run by road safety charity Brake which is urging drivers to reduce their speed to 20mph around schools and homes.

She said: “Our world stopped turning on June 15, 2006.

“Ryan’s whole family struggles to accept that he is gone, taken from us, so cruelly. All we can do now is fight to prevent further tragedies, in memory of Ryan.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer