Council chiefs are being urged to take action after a ‘salt of the earth’ couple were killed in a tragic double collision. Michael Draper and Rafal Wojdyl were rushed to hospital following the crash on the A57 Cadishead Way, in Ireland, on June 23 last year.
Sadly, 62-year-old Mr Draper died in hospital on July 3, before 43-year-old Mr Wojdyl died 10 days later. Both died as a result of their injuries from the horror crash, an inquest at Bolton Coroners’ Court heard in February.
Now, the coroner involved has written to the highways department at Salford City Council calling for a review into the safety of the junction where the tragedy unfolded. In a report published this week, coroner Prof Dr Alan Walsh told the council: “In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you have the power to take such action.”
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The report explains that driver Mr Draper and passenger Mr Wojdyl had been traveling along Fairhills Road in a Dacia Logan car before turning onto the A57, which runs between Eccles and Warrington. At the same time, a lorry was traveling along Cadishead Way towards Eccles, while a Citroen Berlingo van was traveling in the opposite direction waiting to turn right into Fairhills Road.
In the report, Prof Dr Walsh said: “At the junction Mr Draper, without reason, pulled out of Fairhills Road into Cadishead Way directly into the path of the HGV and there was a collision. As the collision developed, Mr Draper’s vehicle was pushed back by the HGV, causing a further collision between Mr Draper’s vehicle and the Citroen Berlingo.”
The couple were rushed to Salford Royal Hospital but both died days later. Their inquest heard that Mr Draper died as a result of multiple injuries caused by the collision, while Mr Wojdyl died due to severe head and chest traumatic injuries suffered in the crash.
Wayne Brophy, chief executive of recruitment firm Cast UK, knew the couple for around 10 years. His business from him had hired Mr Wojdyl as a cleaner while Mr Draper, who ran a separate company, would often help out.
Mr Brophy told the Manchester Evening News : “They were really, really top people – really nice lads. I only ever knew them professionally but they were lovely people.
“They were always reliable. Just good, honest lads – I trusted them implicitly. They were always good with me, they had keys to our office. They would go to Costco of a weekend and buy stock for us.”
Mr Brophy says he was called ‘completely out of the blue’ by a friend of the couple, who told him they had been involved in a serious accident. He added: “I hadn’t seen them for a few days and I thought it wasn’t like them.
“They were just salt of the earth people. I was absolutely devastated.”
In the ‘prevention of future deaths’ report released this week, Prof Dr Alan Walsh says the junction of Cadishead Way and Fairhills Road is ‘very busy’ – giving access to businesses and shops including a Tesco and Lidl – while the A57 is also a ‘very busy’ access road between Manchester and the M6. There are no traffic lights at the junction, while the speed limit remains 50mph in the area.
Prof Dr Walsh also raises a number of other concerns that could affect drivers at the junction. He says there is no footpath on one side of Cadishead Way – while there is a bend, a bridge, trees and bushes on the Eccles-bound carriageway which ‘obscure and affect the line of vision’ for vehicles leaving Fairhills Road, like Mr Draper’s car.
The coroner also points out that vehicles turn into the ‘very busy’ Fairhills Road junction from both directions of Cadishead Way. He says this could ‘could cause distractions to drivers’ – particularly those leaving Fairhills Road, who are faced with a restricted view and vehicles traveling at 50mph along Cadishead Way.
“During the course of the inquest the evidence revealed matters giving rise to concern,” added Prof Dr Walsh. “In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken.”
The coroner is urging Salford City Council carries out a review considering the layout of the junction, the 50mph speed limit on the A57 close to the junction, the ‘restricted views’ of vehicles pulling out of Fairhills Road ‘particularly caused by trees, bushes and undergrowth’, and the provision of traffic lights at the junction. The council must respond to the coroner by July 8.
Coun Mike McCusker, lead member for planning and sustainable development at Salford City Council, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Michael and Rafal after this tragic accident. Salford City Council has undertaken its own investigations into this matter. We will review the coroner’s suggestions and respond.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.