It is clear that speed and driver error played a major part in the five deaths – Coroner THE absence of speed cameras on a deadly stretch of road where five people died within six weeks was highlighted on Monday at an inquest into their deaths. Coroner

Dean Hawes

'It is clear that speed and driver error played a major part in the five deaths' - Coroner

THE absence of speed cameras on a deadly stretch of road where five people died within six weeks was highlighted on Monday at an inquest into their deaths.

Coroner William Morris said he would send Cambridgeshire County Council a report into the deaths of two drivers and three passengers on the Forty Foot Bank road.

Jordan Hawes

Driver error was found to be the cause of both accidents, which happened within just a few weeks of each other.

The road runs beside the Forty Foot Drain between Ramsey Forty Foot and Chatteris with a deep ditch on one side and, on the other, a steep bank into 20ft of water.

Cidalina De Oliviera

The first accident claimed the life of a father and son just four days before Christmas, when their car went into the water. Three Portuguese workers died in the second accident in February, when their car clipped an on-coming vehicle as it over-took a lorry at 80mph. They too crashed into the water.

Mr Morris said: "In these two inquests I have dealt with tragically the death of no less than five people.

"The evidence I have heard is that while the road is well marked with signs indicating the speed limit of 50mph, there are no speed cameras."

After the hearings, county council spokesman Mark Miller said it was considering putting in average speed cameras along Forty Foot Bank. But any decision on funding for the new cameras, which could cost up to £300,000, would not be made before December.

Jose Marmeleira

Mr Miller said: "It is clear that from these inquests that speed and driver error played a major part in the deaths of these people and our own investigations show motorists are driving up to 118mph down there in a 50mph limit."

Dean Hawes, 28, and his seven-year-old son Jordan, of Gull Way, Chatteris, died after the car they were travelling in plunged into the drain on December 21 last year. They were driving to collect Jordan's mother from work in Huntingdon.

The inquest heard Mr Hawes clipped a crash barrier as he negotiated a bend on the road and lost control of his Mondeo, which plunged into the water between 5.20pm and 6pm. Both father and son drowned.

PC Chris Breeze, the investigating officer, said he was unable to say how fast the car had been travelling, but it would not have needed to have been travelling at any great speed to leave the road.

Karen Abblitt

North and East Cambridgeshire coroner Mr Morris recorded a verdict of accidental death.

On the same day, the coroner heard how three Portuguese factory workers died after their car overtook a lorry before crashing in to an on-coming car and plunging into the drain.

Driver Jose Marmeleira, 49, and his back seat passengers Cidalina De Oliveira, 55, and Carlos Condeco, 45, all from Peterborough, drowned at around 5am on February 1. They were driving to work at Rustlers onion factory in Chatteris.

Mr Marmeleira had tried to overtake a skip lorry which was travelling at around 50mph. His son Miguel, who had been travelling in the passenger seat of his father's Hyundai Lantra, told the inquest they had been travelling at speeds of 80mph.

He told the inquest as his father had begun to overtake he saw another vehicle coming towards them, they tried to get back onto their own carriageway, but struck the on-coming Vauxhall Cavalier.

Miguel Marmeleira managed to escape from the vehicle as it went off the road and into the drain, but the other three did not. Mr Morris recorded a verdict of accidental death for all three.

The Hunts Post and its sister paper, The Cambs Times, have been campaigning for improvements along the Forty Foot Bank road since February. The issue has created a record response from our readers who want improvements including a lower speed limit, speed cameras, an overtaking ban, and lighting on the road, which is pitch dark at night.

Readers also contacted The Hunts Post to tell us about earlier deaths on the road, including that in 1978 of Karen Abblitt, 20, from Field Road, Ramsey, and Joyce Van-Kerro, a mother of four, aged 39, who died in 1989 on her way home to Ramsey from a Christmas shopping trip.