Gritting error by Suffolk County Council contractor Kier led to mum’s death as car skidded
A mother of two died two days after Christmas when she was struck by a car on an icy road which had not been gritted due to an error, an inquest has heard.
Forty-one-year-old Claire Taylor, who was out running, was catapulted 100ft into a field at Lower Mill Farm, Great Bradley after she was hit by a car in December 2016.
Motorist Chantel Macbain, from Haverhill, was cleared by a jury of causing her death by careless driving.
More than two years after the death of Mrs Taylor, who lived in Thurlow Road, Great Bradley, Suffolk Coroner’s Court heard the gritter driver could not find the route map and missed out four miles of the B1061, a ‘priority one’ road.
A report submitted to the court by Kier Highways, a company contracted by Suffolk County Council to maintain roads during winter, concluded that the night before the incident, workers did not fully grit the road “in error”.
Mike Thompson, general manager of Kier Highways, said the gritting vehicle which was scheduled to treat the B1061 was being driven by an ‘inexperienced’ driver who was employed on a zero-hour contact to cover the shift because of staff shortages over the Christmas period.
The driver, Miroslaw Kosiwski, did not know the route and was allocated Kier highways ganger, James Clarke, to act as a navigator but they were unable to locate the gritting route map which should have been in the cab.
After asking a more senior member of staff where the map was, the pair were given hand written instructions to follow, based on the memory of a more experienced driver.
While driving along the B1061, the pair became confused with the instructions. They decided to turn around at what they believed to be the right point, leaving 6.9km of road untreated.
Concluding that Mrs Taylor had died due to a collision “caused by a car that skidded on ice”, assistant coroner, Dr Dan Sharpstone, said the risk of the incident had been ‘increased’ by the road not being gritted overnight. He said no blame for the lack of gritting could be attributed to either the driver or navigator.
But he pointed to inefficient communications and training and a lack of resources at the time within Kier together with the lack of a detailed report until now of what had gone wrong.
Mrs Taylor’s family said in a statement her death had caused an ‘immense void’ in their lives and they missed their ‘wonderful, beautiful Claire’ every minute.