Inquests will open next week into couple killed in Christmas Eve crash on A47

The scene of a road traffic accident on the A47 near Wendling. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The scene of a road traffic accident on the A47 near Wendling. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2012

Inquests will be opened on Monday into a couple who died after a crash on the A47 at Wendling, near Dereham, on Christmas Eve.

Flowers at the scene of the crash on the A47 at Wendling Flowers at the scene of the crash on the A47 at Wendling

A 77-year-old man driving a grey Vauxhall Astra died in hospital four hours after his car was involved in a collision with a silver VW Polo travelling in the opposite direction.

The 76-year-old passenger in the Astra - believed to be the driver’s wife - died at the scene.

The 69-year-old driver of the Polo - who is from the Norwich area - is described as “comfortable” in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital with injuries including two broken legs, a broken right arm, broken pelvis and internal bleeding.

The couple who died were from Aylestone - a suburb of Leicester - and are thought to have been on their way to Mid Norfolk to see family for Christmas.

The scene of the crash on the A47 at Wendling The scene of the crash on the A47 at Wendling

They have not yet been named and their names will be released at the inquest openings.

The Astra was heading towards Dereham and the Polo was travelling in the Swaffham direction.

Passers-by battled to pull the pair out of their blazing car, which burst into flames after the collision close to the Wendling turn-off.

Flowers have put laid at the scene and signs have been put up appealing for witnesses.

A Norfolk Police spokesman: “Our inquiries continue and as to the cause of the collision it is still too early to say.”

Local man George Pledger arrived at the scene after the crash and said: “Credit to all the public who pulled the victims from vehicles with no thought for their own safety.

“The vehicles were very much burning and the emergency services were very professional when they arrived, and in great numbers.”

He added: “It is a tragedy and is a reminder of the inate goodness that the overwhelming majority of people possess.”

It was the latest of dozens of serious accidents in recent years, and came a few weeks after the EDP launched a campaign to fully dual and make other safety improvements to the A47.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said the accident added to the urgency to improve the busy road.

He said: “This is tragic news, and I know that all our hearts will go out to the friends and families of those who have been killed and injured. This is especially tragic at Christmas, which is a time for family. It’s a stark reminder of the danger of our roads at this time of year, and especially of the urgency of the need for improvements to the A47.”

Jenny Lock, the owner of Greenbanks Hotel at Wendling, which is close to the crash scene, said it was a “very dangerous” stretch of road.

She said: “Someone came in in a state of shock to use our fire extinguisher. Three members of staff went out to try to help but it was far too dangerous for them,

“It is a very dangerous road and there are always accidents here. We are frequently hearing sirens going past and there have been several fatal accidents.”

She added: “It is such a tragedy to happen on Christmas Eve for all the families involved and it is something they will remember every Christmas forever.”

Anyone with information - including sightings of either car before the crash - should contact PC Dan Curtis from Swaffham roads policing on 101.

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