Category: Oxfordshire

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Jose Castro-Gonzalez: Lorry driver died after slamming into back of truck as cops cleared BADGER from road

A dad-of-two died after his lorry slammed into the back of another truck as police cleared a dead badger from the road, and inquest heard today. HGV driver Jose Castro-Gonzalez collided with the lorry as police removed the animal’s body from the carriageway of the A34 near Oxford in the early hours of the morning. One of the cops was in the road when her colleague screamed at her to get out of the way after they heard screeching tyres and the smell of burning rubber, followed by a loud bang. The 61-year-old driver was trapped in the wreckage of his Budgens lorry cab and had to be cut free by firefighters. He was taken to hospital but died from multiple injuries minutes after arriving. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was called in to investigate after the rolling road block sparked the tragic crash. The Spanish national had arrived for his shift at 10pm on February 21 last year after leaving his home in Bedford, which he shared with wife Diedre (corr) and his two daughters. The inquest heard that off-duty PC Davina Gotch left her shift at Abingdon Police [1] Station just before 3am and was travelling home along the A34 near Oxford when she spotted a dead badger in the road. Google Shift: PC Davina Gotch was travelling home from her shift at Abingdon Police Station when she spotted a badger in the road A statement by her and read out to the inquest in Oxford said: “I quickly steered back into the other lane. My immediate concern was that another vehicle would collide with the badger. I was worried if a motorcyclist hit it, they could be seriously injured or killed due to its size.” PC Gotch reported the badger to colleagues and patrolling police were sent to clear it. HGV driver Kenneth Kirtland was driving along the southbound A34 carriageway – he told the inquest: “I saw a police car coming up the sliproad with red flashing lights. I assumed something was going on up ahead, so I started to slow down. “The truck in front of me was braking and I slowed right down. The police car put on hazard lights and stopped across both carriageways. “All of a sudden as I was rolling by, I heard a loud bang and I started to speed up. I tried to steer and brake but nothing appeared to be happening. I thought I would end up sandwiched with the truck in front. I had no idea what was going on. My mirrors had folded in and I couldn’t see behind. “I finally came to a stop and jumped out. I saw the lorry had gone into the back of me and then into the central reservation. “I have no idea how far it pushed me. It seemed like I was out of control for ages but it was probably only a few seconds. The truck was smoking and mangled. “The weather was fine and visibility was clear. I don’t see why the collision occurred.” Google Crash: The collision took place on a stretch of the A34 near Oxford (file picture) Mr Kirtland told the inquest he went to sit on the verge in shock after police told him help was on its way. He added: “I braked. You assume the guy behind you has seen you and is taking the same action.” Paramedic Jason Butler said in a statement that an ambulance was called at around 3.15am and when emergency services arrived, the trucker was trapped in the wreckage by his legs. His condition deteroiorated as firefighters cut him free and he was rushed to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, but pronounced dead minutes after arriving. Police constables Lisa Brennan and Richard Farnell were the uniformed response officers called to deal with the dead badger. Pc Brennan told the inquest the pair put the blue lights on to get to the scene, before switching them off and keeping red flashing lights and hazards on as they slowed the traffic down gradually in a rolling road block. She said: “We were looking for the badger and we saw it. It was massive, big enough that had it been hit, it would have damaged the car. “The lorry behind us stopped and we started a discussion about how to remove the badger due to its size. It was huge. ‘I started walking up the carriageway towards the badger when I heard a loud noise. I knew straightaway it was a crash of some sort but I could not see what had happened. PA Evidence: The inquest was heard at Oxford Coroner’s Court “I heard the screech of brakes and could smell burning rubber and I knew it had to be a heavy goods vehicle as it was so loud. “Pc Farnell shouted at me to get out of the way and I jumped onto the verge. I ran back down the carriageway and the back of the lorry was across both lanes. The front was wedged in the central barrier.” Both officers had up-to-date fast roads training. Pc Farnell, who had been an officer for six years, told the inquest: “Our plan was to do a rolling road block to remove the dead badger. When we joined the slip-road, I turned off the blue lights.” When questioned about why he had turned them off, Pc Farnell replied: “I didn’t want to dazzle other vehicles, especially when it is so dark. “It is not unusual for other units to attend when needed if roads policing is not available.” Collision investigator, Pc James Henderson, told the inquest Mr Castro-Gonzalez was travelling at around 53mph on the road, which is limited to 60mph for HGVs, when he braked sharply for two seconds before the crash, reducing the lorry to 40mph. He told the inquest: “The badger was unlikely to cause serious injury to a driver, but the risk is a driver overreacting. It was clearly an obstruction that needed to be removed.” Jackie Lovell, Thames Valley Police senior manager, stressed it was a challenging situation for the officers. She told the coroner: “Had there been a hard shoulder, they could have stopped there and run into the road, though that is a very hazardous thing to do. “A temporary closure could have been used to close off one lane, but the difficulty was that the badger was in the middle of the road. The other option that is possible is to decide not to pick it up and drive on, but you have to assess whether you can leave it where it is.” She added: “A great deal of work has gone on over the past few months with Hampshire Constabulary to improve things, invest in better e-learning systems and add rolling road blocks practice to training. We want to make sure any lessons we can think of can be put into training, going forward.” Recording an accidental death verdict, Oxfordshire Coroner Darren Salter said; “The evidence indicates the lighting of the police vehicle included flashing reds but not blue lights. It is fair to say that if the blue lights had been on, the blue lights are likely to be more noticeable, but having said that, there were red lights and flashing warning lights. “The police car could have been something that Mr Castro-Gonzalez could not see due to the two HGVs on the carriageway. The two vehicles were slowing or stopped and Mr Kirkland’s vehicle displayed hazards. Very sadly, Mr Castro-Gonzalez failed to appreciate what was going on up ahead despite the lights displayed. “I am satisfied the officers had received the appropriate training and we have heard the reason for not using the blue lights on this occasion because of concerns about potentially dazzling other traffic. “I am also satisfied the badger could potentially be a hazard, not least to motorcyclists and maybe not directly to vehicles in terms of injury, but the main problem would be car drivers taking avoiding action. “It had to be removed. Mr Castro-Gonzalez unfortunately failed to see the police vehicle or the two HGVs which were stopped or slowing in lane one and drove into the rear of the second HGV in lane one.” Mr Castro-Gonzalez’s family were too upset to speak after the inquest. References ^ Police (www.mirror.co.uk)

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Breighton airport helicopter crash sees five casualties at Yorkshire aerodrome

Helicopter was 30ft above ground when it crashed at Breighton Airport Five people suffered serious but non-life- threatening injuries in crash Incident took place near grass area alongside airfield’s main runway Site was hosting 1940s weekend and invited owners of classic aircraft Five people are seriously injured after a helicopter crashed at an aerodrome. Humberside Police were called to Breighton Airport, near Selby, in Yorkshire at 6.07pm today following the crash, and all casualties were taken to hospital. The five people involved – all men – suffered serious head, back, chest and leg injuries in the incident, but police said they are not believed to be life-threatening. The five people involved suffered serious head, back, chest and leg injuries when the helicopter crashed An eyewitness reported seeing a dark-coloured helicopter doing circuits in the airfield before lifting up and levelling off. Moments later it crashed A pictured of a helicopter, which is believed to be the one involved in the crash, was posted to Twitter by user John Kavanagh yesterday North Yorkshire Fire Service said all of the men had been pulled from the helicopter when rescuers arrived. The incident occurred near a grass area alongside the main runway. According to BBC Look North [1] , the airfield was hosting a 1940s weekend, which invited owners of classic aircraft to fly in and land for free. An eyewitness reported seeing a dark-coloured helicopter doing circuits in the airfield before lifting up and levelling off. It was later seen following the course of the runway. The helicopter was around 30ft off the ground when the eyewitness looked away and heard a loud boom. He turned back to see the aircraft had crashed and said people were running over to it. Two people were taken by air ambulance to hospital, one to Leeds General Hospital and the other to Hull Royal Infirmary. The other injured people were taken to hospital by ambulance. The identities of those involved have not yet been disclosed. Numerous emergency services were in attendance, according to police, and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service said both its helicopters were sent to the crash site. Humberside Police were called to Breighton Airport at 6.07pm following the crash, which injured five people Two people were taken by air ambulance to hospital, one to Leeds General Hospital and the other to Hull Royal Infirmary The other injured people were taken to hospital by ambulance. The identities of those involved have not yet been disclosed The Air Accident Investigation Branch will be leading the investigation to establish what caused the crash. A pictured of a helicopter, believed to be the one involved in the crash, was posted to Twitter by user John Kavanagh yesterday. The image shows the aircraft, which has the word ‘Army’ written along the side of it, hovering a few inches above the ground. The airfield in Yorkshire is a former RAF station that was used as a heavy bomber base during World War Two and a nuclear missile launch site during the Cold War. In more recent years it has become an active flying club with members who both own and operate the planes and helicopters based at the site. In April the airfield was the site of another crash when a Piper PA-28 aircraft, known as a Cherokee, went through a hedge at the end of the runway. A man and a woman were lucky to escape with their lives, reported the Hull Daily Mail [2] . Numerous emergency services were in attendance, according to police, and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service said both its helicopters were sent to the crash site (file photo) People survey the scene at Breighton airport near Selby, where five men suffered serious head, back, chest and leg injuries The Air Accident Investigation Branch will be leading the investigation to establish what caused the crash Read more: References ^ BBC Look North (www.bbc.co.uk) ^ Hull Daily Mail (www.hulldailymail.co.uk)

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Friends: FriendsFest is back and touring the UK this time

It was the ultimate experience for the Friends ultra-fan; yet, unfortunately, FriendsFest’s time in London last summer was far too brief and inaccessible for majority of the UK. Well, some excellent news. FriendsFest has upheld its promises; you know, the ones about being there when the rain starts to pour, which in the UK basically means forever and all the time. Comedy Central UK is bringing FriendsFest back as a travelling tour to six cities in the coming weeks, meaning whole swathes of the UK will now be able to submerge themselves in faithful recreations of the show’s classic sets. That includes getting a chance to sip coffee and indulge in some ‘Smelly Cat’ karaoke, while visiting the likes of Central Perk, the opening titles’ fountain, and Monica’s ever-spotless apartment. The tour is also adding some new surprises; namely Joey and Chandler’s apartment – table football included – and the Vegas Chapel of Love where Rachel and Ross so unwisely tied the knot. TV reboots in pictures The full tour dates can be found below: HAGGERSTON PARK, HOXTON: 24 August 29 August CHISWICK HOUSE & GARDENS: 1 September 44 September HYLANDS HOUSE, ESSEX: 7 September 11 September HAREWOOD HOUSE, LEEDS: 14 September 18 September KNEBWORTH HOUSE, HERTS: 21 September 25 September BLENHEIM PALACE, OXFORDSHIRE: 28 September 1 October Just as with last year, this is going to be a hugely coveted event, having previously sold out in a mere 13 minutes. You have until midnight, 28 June to sign up here [1] for exclusive access to buy tickets, with general sale opening 1 July. Reuse content [2] References ^ here (www.comedycentral.co.uk) ^ Reuse content (www.independent.co.uk)