Coroner calls for review of hard shoulder closures after fatal crash

11/10/2019
Dominic Browne

Highways England has been asked by a senior coroner to review the closure of hard shoulders after an inquest into a minibus crash on the M4 that killed three people, according to reports.

Senior coroner for Berkshire Heidi Connor said she would ask Highways England to look into its management of roadworks after the incident, the BBC has reported.

A bus carrying students was struck by a lorry near Newbury where there was no hard shoulder due to roadworks on 11 October last year.

Passengers Jason Aleixo, 44, Lorraine MacLellan, 60, died from multiple injuries at the scene and driver Catherine Gardiner, 52, died in hospital the next day.

Ms Connor recorded that the deaths as due to a road traffic collision, but said it 'remains unclear' why the minibus abruptly stopped.

'On balance a problem with the vehicle was more likely than driver input,' she said and added that a hard shoulder 'may have offered the minibus an opportunity to move out of harm's way'.

Mrs Connor said she had heard no evidence that anyone at Highways England was responsible for minimising hard shoulder closures.

The lorry, which was travelling at about 52mph, had little time to avoid the minibus, the inquest heard. It was also shown a video of the incident.

Highways England has been asked to respond to the coroner.

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