Crashes: Drivers at fault

PUBLISHED: 11:19 30 June 2006 | UPDATED: 21:57 28 May 2010

The scene of one of the accidents

The scene of one of the accidents

A CORONER recorded verdicts of accidental death on five people who died when two cars they were in plunged into a notorious stretch of drain. William Morris said he would be sending Cambridgeshire County Council a report on the inquests into the deaths on

A CORONER recorded verdicts of accidental death on five people who died when two cars they were in plunged into a notorious stretch of drain.

William Morris said he would be sending Cambridgeshire County Council a report on the inquests into the deaths on the C85, which runs along the floodbank of the Forty Foot Drain between Chatteris and Ramsey Forty Foot.

Driver error was the cause of both accidents, which occurred within a few weeks of each other, on a stretch of road which runs along a steep bank which slopes into up to 20ft of water.

The first accident claimed the life of a father and son just days before Christmas, when their car went into the water.

Three Portuguese workers died in the second accident, when their car clipped an oncoming vehicle as it overtook a lorry at 80mph before also crashing into the water.

Mr Morris said after Monday's hearings: "The evidence I have heard is that whilst the road is well marked with signs indicating the speed limit of 50mph, there are no speed cameras."

County council spokesman Mark Miller said afterwards the council was considering putting in cameras.

Any decision on funding for the cameras, which could cost up to £400,000, would not be made until December at the earliest.

Mr Miller said: "It is clear from these inquests that speed and driver error played a major part in the deaths of these people and our own investigations show motorists are driving up to 118mph down there in a 50mph limit."

Dean Hawes, 28, and his seven-year-old son Jordan, of Gull Way, Chatteris, died on December 20.

The inquest heard Mr Hawes clipped a crash barrier and lost control of his Mondeo, which plunged into the water between 5.20pm and 6pm.

Both father and son had died as a result of drowning, the inquest heard.

Pc Chris Breeze said he was unable to say how fast the car had been travelling, but it would not have needed to have been travelling at any great speed.

North and East Cambridgeshire coroner Mr Morris recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Earlier, an inquest heard how three Portuguese factory workers died after the car they were travelling in overtook a lorry at speeds of 80mph before crashing in to an oncoming car.

Driver Jose Marmeleira, 49, and his back seat passengers Cidalina De Oliveira, 55, and Carlos Condeco, 45, all from Peterborough, drowned as a result of the accident on the morning of February 1.

Mr Marmeleira had attempted to overtake a skip lorry travelling at about 50mph.

His son Miguel, in the passenger seat, told the inquest they had been travelling at 80mph.

He said as his father started to overtake he saw another vehicle coming towards them. They tried to get back on to their own carriageway, but struck the oncoming Vauxhall Cavalier.

Miguel Marmeleira managed to escape from the vehicle as it went off the road and into the drain.

Mr Morris recorded a verdict of accidental death on all three victims.

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