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Couple killed in tragic accident

PUBLISHED: 12:02 11 July 2008 | UPDATED: 20:50 05 July 2010

A retired couple were killed when they were hit by a car on a stretch of road with no street lighting, an inquest has heard.

Gerald and Henny McDonald, were involved in the accident as they crossed the A12 at Darsham, south of Lowestoft.

A retired couple were killed when they were hit by a car on a stretch of road with no street lighting, an inquest has heard.

Gerald and Henny McDonald, were involved in the accident as they crossed the A12 at Darsham, south of Lowestoft.

They caught the train to Darsham on December 5, 2006 after a weekend of sightseeing and visiting their son in London.

The station is on the west of the A12, about halfway between Lowestoft and Ipswich, but the passenger car park is on the opposite side of the busy road - with no pedestrian crossing or street lights.

It was while the McDonalds, of Gun Hill, Southwold, were crossing the road that they were hit by a car - an accident which has prompted Suffolk County Council to invest in street lights to make the stretch of the A12 safer.

Mr McDonald, 86, who was known to friends as Michael, died at the scene and his 84-year-old wife died later that night after being airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridgeshire.

Sarah Block, who hit the McDonalds when she was driving home from work at about 5.50pm, told the inquest at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday that she did not see the couple until it was too late because the area was so dark.

As soon as she saw the McDonalds in the southbound carriageway of the road in front of her, she tried to brake but had already hit them.

“I came to the crossing and they were literally just there in front of me. There was nothing I could have done. It all happened so quickly,” she said.

PC Jeff Cribb, from Suffolk police's collision investigation team, told the court that the lack of street lights makes that stretch of the A12 a dangerous place for pedestrians to have to cross.

He said: “If this had occurred in a day time condition, I am sure that the outcome would have been different. The crux is the lack of available lighting and a pedestrian would have been inconspicuous to the driver.”

Suffolk coroner Peter Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death and said that the lack of street lighting had undoubtedly contributed to the tragedy.

He said: “It is clear given the extreme darkness and very, very poor lighting conditions in this area that pedestrians would have had a better chance of seeing any illuminated vehicle against the darkness than a driver would have had looking out on the dark.

“This appears to have been a very tragic accident that has taken the lives of a well-loved couple.”

Rod Sore, Suffolk County Council's safety engineering manager, said that the council had looked into relocating the car park to the same side of the road as the station, but no land is available for sale.

However he said that work to put street lights on the road is already underway and should be finished by the end of the month.

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