Devastated family send open letter to industry to ensure loads are secure
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"One minute we're just taking the grandchildren out strawberry picking and eating ice cream and then just like that... our lives had changed forever."
An open letter has been released, which coincides with the national HGV and Commercial Vehicle Week, supported by a number of Police forces across the country, as well as Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency, National Highways and Office of Traffic Commissioner, calling on everyone involved in a vehicle carrying a load – be it the company, driver or loader – to ensure that every item being transported is secured appropriately.
The family of a man who died when a block of concrete fell on to his car from a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction have described the horrifying moment their lives changed forever in an instant.
Steven Oscroft was taking his two grandchildren out strawberry picking in Ollerton when the incident happened at Netherfield Lane in Perlethorpe cum Budby.
The 60-year-old from Shirebrook, who's been described as a 'doting granddad', had wanted to seize an opportunity for a family day out during the easing of lockdown measures on 7 July last year.
He died instantly at the scene when the rock smashed through the windscreen of his Hyundai IX35. His wife and two grandchildren who were also in the car were unharmed.
‘’There is no happy ending for us, we’re never going to get Dad back but, we’d like to think that somebody else wouldn’t have to go through that.
"I wouldn’t like another family to have to go through what I saw that day and what the children witnessed was terrible. That’s all I keep thinking about. In my eyes it wasn’t an accident, it was preventable by restraining the load correctly… if it had a decent netting on…because the concrete that fell, that netting couldn’t have been secured.
"Just taking the grandchildren out strawberry picking and just like that our lives have changed forever. It was the first time we had been out anywhere since lockdown.’’
The family say they still find his death very difficult to accept.
"He was so full of life, just happy all the time... kind, caring, he just loved his family and couldn't do enough for the grandchildren.
"We're just in autopilot. We've stuck together and focused on the grandchildren because Steve would have said: ‘as long as those kids are alright then you're alright.
"I think it’s about just taking one day at a time because if you do let yourself think about forever without dad then that’s when it hits you and it gets hard.
"I think everybody just needs educating. I mean these drivers might have been driving for 30 to 40 years and nothing has fallen off before, but we are proof that it can fall off and it can ruin people’s lives forever.”
Detective Sergeant Adam Cooper, from Nottinghamshire Police, who led the serious collision investigation, said:
"We've all been touched by Mr Oscroft's case and his remarkable family who haven't stopped thinking about others despite the pain and suffering they have gone through.
They've been so strong and supportive to the investigation and have thrown themselves into trying to make a difference to unsafe loads so that this doesn't happen again.
I hope they feel proud that their efforts have been recognised by leading figures from within the industry."
The open letter, urges everyone to play their part in preventing road deaths.
It says: “Nobody goes to work to intentionally harm or kill someone, but the reality is that unless you make sure the loads you carry are safe you are putting yourself and other people at risk during your journey and when you come to unload.
“Any item capable of being thrown from or bouncing out of a vehicle needs to be secured whatever vehicle it is being carried on, whether it’s a plastic bucket or wheelbarrow, steel beams, or heavy plant equipment. Even small items can kill or seriously injure someone if they come off a vehicle at speed. Delays and disruption on the road network because of load debris cost the UK economy millions of pounds every year.
“Load shift incidents on the road and in the workplace are both foreseeable and completely preventable. Police forces, the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), National Highways and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) are working together to protect people, but we can’t do it alone. Drivers, vehicle operators, and those loading vehicles or trailers for others (consignors) must also play their part in preventing deaths and injuries.
We all want our roads to be safe as possible and we all want to go home safely at the end of the working day. Play your part by making sure that everything you carry is secured and the vehicles you load are safe and legal before setting off.