M5 crash inquest: Day four from Shire Hall in Taunton

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2:48pm

ROBERT Carey, who was a police inspector in November 2011, took his two sons to the fireworks.

He told the inquest: "It surprised me that it was parallel to the railway line.

"I commented to my son, 'I hope that they have told Network Rail'."

Mr Carey said the visibility "diminished" at the time the display started as a mist started to develop.

He said: "A smog like a wave was moving across the pitch towards us from the display itself."

After the display, he noticed flames on the other side of the ground and thought an embankment had caught fire.

2:42pm

TRAFFIC manager Paul Stephens, who was contracted by the Highways Agency, said events attracting crowds of under 5,000 did not need a licence.

Referring to the fireworks event at the rugby club, Mr Stephens told Mr Gridley: "There's nothing we can do about it.The only degree of control would be through Taunton Rugby Club."

Although he had no concerns about traffic movement to and from the Hyde Park location, he did discuss the issue of distraction to drivers on the M5.

But he could not recall the potential problems of smoke ever being spoken about.

 

 

2:37pm

ADRIAN Gridley, events planning officer with Avon and Somerset Police, said he had a call from a man from Taunton Rugby Clun before the fireworks event.

He recalled having a "general" conversation about the event, but said organisers would be responsible for it.

Mr Gridley said he also had a chat with Highway Authority representative Paul Stephens, who had raised concerns about fireworks displays beside the motorway and 'rubber-neck' distractions caused by large events.

But it said it was up to the organiser to assess whether the site was fit for purpose.

 

 

2:30pm

SCOTT Weetch, community protection lead at Taunton Deane Council, said: "It isn't for the borough council to notify the operator to comply with health and safety.

"The council can give advice, but I don't think the council can be expected to be an ombudsman and everyman for every event and every eventuality that could occur from it."

2:21pm

WEST Somerset Coroner Michael Rose questioned why Taunton Deane Council failed to flag up potential dangers relating to the fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club - and then prosecuted the event organiser after the tragic M5 accident.

The authority's licensing officer Olivia Dennis said she received a phone call from a club representative before the event and told him that a licence was not needed.

Mrs Dennis said: "I explained to them that they wouldn't need a separate licence for the fireworks display.

"I recommended that they should contact the police, the fire brigade and possibly the Highways Authority and the authority in charge of the railway line close to the ground."

Mr Rose asked Mrs Dennis if it had occurred to anyone at the Deane that they should have spotted the possibly of an area of reduced visibility near or on the motorway caused by the fireworks.

Mrs Dennis said her responsibility ended with the advice she had given to the club.

Mr Rose said the borough council should have the relevant knowledge about conditions and asked whether it had "abdicated their responsibility".

He said: "There was no concern for the borough council that a firework display was taking place so close to the motorway?

"Some time after the event they are prosecuting under the Health and Safety Act.

"Having failed to notice a potential danger, they then prosecute it."

Mr Rose was referring to the trial against fireworks organiser Geoffrey Counsell, which collapsed at Bristol Crown Court in December.

 

9:54am

AN inquest into the deaths of seven people killed in a horrific pile-up on the M5 near Taunton in November 2011 continues today (Thursday, April 3).

West Somerset Coroner Michel Rose will continue the hearing into the deaths of Tony and Pamela Adams, 73 and 70, of Newport, lorry drivers Terry Brice, 55, of Bristol, and Kye Thomas, 38, of Gunnislake, Cornwall, Michael Barton, 67, and his daughter, Maggie, 23, of Berkshire, and gas supply worker Malcolm Beacham, of Woolavington, near Bridgwater.

They all died in the 37-vehicle pile-up in which 51 people were also injured travelling northwards just past junction 25.

 

For updates from day three,

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Comments (2)

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3:26pm Thu 3 Apr 14

el_pablo says...

Surely if you are driving in poor conditions you concentrate on driving, not getting distracted by fireworks?! Surely it is common sense and that is down to driver error? I was driving on that night near Bridgwater, the fog was horrendous, did I take my eye off the road? No.
If they wish to claim fireworks as being a distraction that close to the motorway, they should use a bit of the old grey matter up top: The fireworks were that close you would need to be looking directly up through the sunroof to see the high rockets. Lower ones would have been obstructed by fog. You can see more of the big Bridgwater fireworks display from the M5 so will they get banned if it comes to that?! Stupid, you can see fireworks for miles around.
Somewhere, however painful for the families involved, it is driver error, pure and simple.
Surely if you are driving in poor conditions you concentrate on driving, not getting distracted by fireworks?! Surely it is common sense and that is down to driver error? I was driving on that night near Bridgwater, the fog was horrendous, did I take my eye off the road? No. If they wish to claim fireworks as being a distraction that close to the motorway, they should use a bit of the old grey matter up top: The fireworks were that close you would need to be looking directly up through the sunroof to see the high rockets. Lower ones would have been obstructed by fog. You can see more of the big Bridgwater fireworks display from the M5 so will they get banned if it comes to that?! Stupid, you can see fireworks for miles around. Somewhere, however painful for the families involved, it is driver error, pure and simple. el_pablo
  • Score: 10

7:24pm Thu 3 Apr 14

dolphins1234 says...

It could not have been driver error 'el_pablo' - the issue is not that drivers were distracted by the fireworks - but that smoke created such poor visibility. All the drivers reported zero visibility. Clearly due to the approaching junction, it would have been impossible to avoid a collision, and the impending pile-up. If it was ever driver error, don't you think they would have interviewed more of the people involved? It was such a tragic accident it would have been impossible to predict who was to blame - no one could have been. The issue is the possibility of the firework SMOKE mixing with the fog and severely reducing visibility. Get your facts straight before you insult people who have been through enough already.
It could not have been driver error 'el_pablo' - the issue is not that drivers were distracted by the fireworks - but that smoke created such poor visibility. All the drivers reported zero visibility. Clearly due to the approaching junction, it would have been impossible to avoid a collision, and the impending pile-up. If it was ever driver error, don't you think they would have interviewed more of the people involved? It was such a tragic accident it would have been impossible to predict who was to blame - no one could have been. The issue is the possibility of the firework SMOKE mixing with the fog and severely reducing visibility. Get your facts straight before you insult people who have been through enough already. dolphins1234
  • Score: -7

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