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Young parents-to-be killed in tragic crash after road sign twisted the wrong way | UK | News


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A pregnant teen and her boyfriend died in a crash after a ‘Give Way’ sign had been twisted and road markings faded at a junction, an inquest has heard.

Personal trainer Josh Alexander, 21, and his lifeguard girlfriend, Jessica Poole, 18, died from their injuries at the scene of the crash at about 5pm on June 5, last year.

The collision with the DAF skip lorry occurred at the crossroad junction of Plurenden Road and Bethersden Road in Woodchurch, near Ashford, Kent.

PC Simon Masterson, a forensic collision investigator at Kent Police told the inquest: “There were no warning signs at Plurenden Road of the crossroads ahead. This could have caused confusion to the driver approaching.

“The worn lines and the rotated sign could have been a contributing factor.”

The give way sign on Plurenden Road was rotated 61 degrees and road markings were faded in several places, which Mr Alexander had failed to recognise, The Sun reports.

The couple had been on their way to work at Happy Valley Chinese in Tenterden, to earn extra cash ahead of the arrival of their baby boy, who they were “excited” to meet.

During investigations, PC Masterson approached the junction himself using Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze, the most common sat nav apps.

All of them failed to give an alert that a crossroads junction was ahead. With this in mind, and the worn markings and rotated sign, it was said that Mr Alexander may not have known he had to give way.

Coroner Katrina Hepburn wrote to Kent County Council (KCC) to see what changes have been made to the junction since the accident before considering whether she will write a “prevention of future deaths” report.

The inquests at Oakwood House in Maidstone heard Mr Alexander had moved to East Cross in Tenterden just two months before the crash and used sat nav apps on his phone for directions while out driving.

Mr Alexander was believed to have been using a sat nav app before accidentally driving his Vauxhall Corsa across the junction and into the path of the skip lorry travelling along Bethersden Road.

Since the accident, the lines have now been repainted on the road and the give way sign has been put back to the correct position.

The skip lorry dash camera footage suggested that Mr Alexander was briefly distracted by his phone before he approached the junction.

PC Masterson described him as looking “calm” and “in control of the vehicle” and he said the footage showed there was “no deceleration” by the Corsa, which approached the crossroad at a “constant speed.”

PC Masterson said: “He interacts with a mobile phone immediately before entering Bethersden Road. His actions suggest he was not aware of the junction ahead.”

Based on the footage it was found the personal trainer was driving at a speed of between 50mph and 56mph, within the 60mph limit for Plurenden Road.

PC Masterson said there was “nothing the lorry driver was physically able to do to avoid the collision.”

No drugs or alcohol were found in the couple’s system. PC Masterson also mentioned the front air bags of Josh’s car did not deploy but the outcome would not have been any different even if it had.

Coroner Katrina Hepburn said: “There was nothing to suggest they were travelling at excessive speed. Whilst we speculate about whether or not he saw the sign, or if the mobile phone was in use, I don’t make any findings in relation to this.

“The crash caused significant and catastrophic injuries and the deaths were due to a road traffic collision.”

A Kent County Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the inquests and we await the letter from the coroner.

“Whenever there is a serious or fatal crash on one of our roads we work with Kent Police, expert engineers and coroners to investigate any causation factors that are identified.

“Once these are known we carry out any work deemed to be needed to help mitigate a similar incident from happening again. One death on our roads is one too many and we will continue to make sure we keep our roads safe.”

Mr Alexander’s father, Ben Sissens, said he believes the approach to the crossroads is “treacherous”.

He said: “The national speed limit is 60 mph but if you’re approaching a junction at that speed with no deceleration or notification, it’s dangerous.

“In plenty of other rural roads there are signs which warn you to reduce speed or rumble strips warning of a hazardous junction.”

Ms Poole’s mother, Aimee Poole, said: “Jessica was beautiful, caring, kind, considerate and funny. She was my best friend and I would choose her company over anyone. The huge gap left in my life is indescribable. We must have told each other we loved each other at least 20 times a day.”

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