Crashes claim three lives

CONCERN was voiced last night after a weekend of tragedy saw Suffolk's roads claim another three lives - bringing this year's grim death toll to 18.So far in 2006 more than one person a week has been killed on the county's roads - and community leaders have now called for more to be done to increase safety on the region's highways, as well as educate motorists about the dangers of careless driving.

CONCERN was voiced last night after a weekend of tragedy saw Suffolk's roads claim another three lives - bringing this year's grim death toll to 18.

So far in 2006 more than one person a week has been killed on the county's roads - and community leaders have now called for more to be done to increase safety on the region's highways, as well as educate motorists about the dangers of careless driving.

They were speaking out after a trio of separate accidents in less than 12 hours claimed the lives of three people on Friday night and early Saturday morning.

If the bleak pattern continues until the end of the year it means 55 people will die - one of the highest death totals in recent years.

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for roads and transport, said: “Statistically speaking because we are only dealing with fairly low numbers you will get these quirks from time to time.

“However having said this obviously every fatal accident is deeply traumatic for the family and friends involved and obviously the county council want accidents to be on the decline.

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“It is our policy to drive the number of serious and fatal accidents down and we have invested money in road improvements since our Conservative administration took over.

“We don't know the cause of these latest accidents yet but when I drive back from county hall late at night there does seem to be a significant number of motorists willing to exceed the speed limit.

“It is vital we continue our programme of education because speed limits are not just there for a joke they have a serious purpose.”

The first accident happened about 8.30pm on Friday when a red Hyundai left the A1092 close to the junction with Cranbrook Lane, between Long Melford and Cavendish, and ploughed into a telegraph pole.

The 18-year-old driver, who has not been named but is believed to have lived in the Glemsford area, was the only occupant of the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Len Young, district councillor for Glemsford, said: “Everyone I have spoken to is mortified about this tragedy. There are a lot of accidents on that stretch of road and it is something I will be bringing up with the Highways Agency to see if anything can be done.”

Meanwhile Tony Walker, 71, from Barking, near Needham Market, died after being involved in a collision with a heavy goods vehicle at a crossroads at Braiseworth, on the A140 near Eye, just after midnight on Saturday.

Police believe Mr Walker, who was wearing a bottle-green fleece, “darkish” trousers, Wellington boots and gloves and was carrying a walking stick, may have been with his dog, a grey lapso, and that he may have walked the entire 15 miles from his home.

Officers are appealing for anyone who can help account for his movements from 3pm on Friday to get in touch.

Mr Walker's wife, Averil, was being comforted by her sisters yesterday but neighbour Wes Pryke paid tribute to the qualified engineer.

He said: “Tony was very fit and active for his age and was always making things for his garden. He would always seem to be pottering around and was very handy with wood.

“He also enjoyed taking his dog out and liked to go walking. He really was a genuinely nice bloke and a superb neighbour.

“Both he and Averil are like grandparents to my children and are the best neighbours you could ask for - you couldn't wish for a better pair.”

In the third accident Neil Wunderle, 22, of Broad Road, Wickham Market, was killed when his Citroen Saxo left the B1079 at Otley Bottom around 3.30am on Saturday

Two other occupants of the vehicle had to be taken to Ipswich Hospital by the ambulance service to be treated for minor injuries.

Malcolm Smith, chairman of Otley parish council, said there had long been concerns about the B1079, especially at the junction with the B1078.

However, Peter Bellfield, county councillor for the Otley area, said safety measures had been introduced along the road between Grundisburgh to the Wyvale roundabout and hoped a temporary 40mph speed limit at the B1078 junction would soon be made permanent, extended into Otley and towards Clopton.

“There are plans in place but I will follow up this accident with interest and if needs be will push for more improvements,” he said.

Anyone with information about any of the accidents should contact Suffolk Police on 01473 613500.

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