Coroner calls for safer A47 as a tribute

A coroner yesterday urged the government to ensure the death of a Norfolk teenager was not in vain by carrying out urgently-required safety improvements on a notoriously-dangerous stretch of the A47.

A coroner yesterday urged the government to ensure the death of a Norfolk teenager was not in vain by carrying out urgently-required safety improvements on a notoriously-dangerous stretch of the A47.

Coroner for Norwich and Central Norfolk William Armstrong made a plea for action at the inquest into the death of 19-year-old David Jackson who died at the A47 junction at Honingham, near Dereham, on October 3 last year.

Recording a verdict of accidental death on the teenager, from Mattishall, near Dereham, Mr Armstrong said: “It would be a tribute to his memory if real and effective measures could be taken to improve safety in this area of the A47.

“This is a notoriously dangerous stretch of road. It has been the scene of many collisions, a number of which resulted in fatalities.

“I want to applaud the campaign that David's mum has waged to try and get something done there.

“It is important that the public and the bereaved families are involved in the consultation process and that these matters can be addressed as a matter of urgency in order that further loss of life is prevented.”

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The coroner's call echoes that of district judge Philip Browning and 10,000 people from the area who signed a petition calling for safety improvements. David's mother, Andrea, presented the petition at Downing Street earlier this year.

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Jackson said: “I agree with everything he (Mr Armstrong) said today. The government has now got to sit up and start listening before this happens again. I would not wish what we have been through on anybody.”

The inquest at Norwich City Hall heard that David was a passenger in a blue Fiat Bravo being driven by his best friend Simon Wooden.

At about 8.25am that morning Mr Wooden was turning towards Norwich from Mattishall Road onto the single-carriageway stretch of the A47 between Dereham and Norwich, when the car was struck by a low-loader HGV travelling towards Dereham.

Mr Armstrong blamed the accident on Mr Wooden's impatience to get out of the junction, citing evidence from an expert police witness who said the lorry would have been clearly visible when he pulled out.

Witnesses told how, after striking the car, the lorry smashed into the cab of an oil tanker before sliding down its side, and crashing into the cab of an Iveco Axer lorry, which was pushed back into a Citroen Berlingo van and then jack-knifed across the road.

Stuart Green was driving the Citroen Berlingo and in a written statement he described what had happened.

“I heard a loud bang and the cab of the yellow lorry raised up a lot and I thought it was going to hit me,” he said.

“The Fiat Bravo was pushed down the A47 and ended up facing towards Dereham. It was badly smashed up. There were no tyres on the driver's side, the back was crumpled and the front pushed up.”

Mr Wooden spoke at the inquest but was unable to give any details of what took place because he claimed to have no memory of what happened after picking up David that morning.

Last month Mr Wooden was banned for driving for six months and fined £300 by Norwich magistrates after he admitting driving carelessly.

The Highways Agency has agreed to carry out a £60,000 package of short-term safety measures, including partially closing the Mattishall Road junction and carrying out traffic monitoring but these have been widely criticised as inadequate.