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Monday, 20 October 2014

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Safety barrier for Cumbrian bridge where dad died in crash

A safety barrier is being put up at a bridge where a father lost his life in a crash.

Crash bridge photo
A crash barrier is being installed at Howath Bridge over the River Wampool

Work is underway at Howath Bridge, near Kirkbride, after engineers recommended work in the wake of the death of part-time firefighter Russell Long, 37.

The Innovia engineer, who lived in Wigton, died on September 3 last year after his Audi car mounted a broken parapet on the bridge in foggy weather and then tumbled into the River Wampool.

North and West Cumbria Coroner David Roberts said after an inquest that he would write to the highways department of Cumbria County Council to urge that they take action to prevent a similar accident.

The authority says an inspection last year after the tragedy had recommended the installation of a safety barrier and to realign the height of the bridge wall.

Mr Long’s mother, Pauline Smith, said it was “shocking” that it took the death of her son to start this work.

“We are very pleased with what is happening,” she told The Cumberland News. “For us as a family it is far, far too late.

“Hopefully it will prevent any more tragedies.”

The inquest into Mr Long’s death heard how he had enjoyed a clay pigeon shoot at his family’s Newtown Arlosh farm and set off for home. He never arrived and his family became involved in a desperate search.

Mr Long’s body was eventually found in the river next to his car, off the B5307.

It emerged that the wheels of his Audi had strayed on to a grass verge and mounted the broken, low lying bridge parapet, effectively propelling the car into the air before it hit a bridge buttress and landed upside down in the river.

Investigations carried out by Mr Long’s brother Allister, his mother and stepfather Harry revealed a large cornerstone that may have stopped his car sliding on to the parapet was already lying in a field at the time of the crash.

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said: “County council bridges of this size in this type of location are structurally inspected every two years. An inspection was last carried out at Howath Bridge in June 2012, when the recommendation was for some minor pointing work, but there were no concerns on the structural integrity of the bridge.

“The approach wall where the tragic incident took place does appear to have a cornerstone missing, but this was not deemed a structural fault in the last inspection or any previous inspections.

“Following serious incidents of this nature, a county council engineer will inspect a site to see if there are any safety recommendations to be made.

“The recommended action from the inspection at Howath last year was to install a safety barrier at the point of impact and to realign the height of the wall so that lined up with the safety barrier.”

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