Coroner calls for road sign to be taken down after it played ‘factor’ in fatal Hartlepool crash

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A CORONER is calling for a road sign to be removed after hearing it played a “contributory factor” in a smash which claimed the life of a Hartlepool woman.

Sally Holbrook, of Fenton Road, Hartlepool, died in a car crash at the junction of Dalton Back Lane, on the A689, near Greatham on December 23.

At an inquest into the death of the 48–year–old, town coroner Malcolm Donnelly heard from Mrs Holbrook’s family and friends who believed a sign pointing to Dalton Piercy on the grass verge actually blocked drivers’ view of the carriageway when crossing it.

But Cleveland Police officer Robin Turner, form the Collision Investigation Unit, said despite him being initially concerned about the sign’s position on approaching the central reservation, once a driver was in position, a clear view of the road could be seen.

And although the sign did not play a part in Mrs Holbrook’s death as two other vehicles were in front of her on the day of the fatal smash, Mr Donnelly said he would be writing to Hartlepool Borough Council in a bid to have the sign removed or replaced with a safer alternative.

He said: “The sign may or may not have been a factor in this case but it is a potential hazard and I will contact the local authority. The sign may have been one in a combination of factors which have conspired not to help the situation.”

The inquest heard that Mrs Holbrook was driving her blue Vauxhall Agila car, with her husband Phil in the passenger seat, on the A689 out of Hartlepool and turned right into the central reservation to go across to Dalton Back Lane.

Two other cars were also waiting in the centre, in the opposite direction, waiting to turn right onto the A689 towards Newton Bewley. One witness said that as the two other cars moved off into the A689, Mrs Holbrook also did and drove into the path of Dave Harman, who was driving a black Ford Focus.

PC Turner calculated that Mrs Holbrook would have been in the road for around 1.32 seconds leaving Mr Harman with no braking time.

Mr Donnelly said: “It is right Mr Harman was not prosecuted, he was not travelling at excessive speed and was there to be seen for several seconds.”

He recorded a verdict of accidental death.