Family campaigns for safer roads after tragic A361 collision

By Laura Linham

24th May 2024 | Local News

Melvyn Cole 63 was tragically killed in a car accident on the A361 outside Torr quarry. (Photo: Emma Powell/Submitted)
Melvyn Cole 63 was tragically killed in a car accident on the A361 outside Torr quarry. (Photo: Emma Powell/Submitted)

A grieving family is campaigning for urgent safety measures on the A361 following the tragic death of Melvyn Cole, who was killed in a crash outside Torr Quarry on 17th April.

Melvyn, 62, was driving home to Frome after finishing work at Gregory's in Shepton Mallet when the collision occurred just ten minutes later.

Emma Powell, Melvyn's daughter-in-law, and his son Kieren, have been visiting Melvyn's flat and the crash site, where they laid a wreath in his memory.

Emma described the harrowing experience of watching traffic dangerously overtake slow-moving quarry trucks, often using the turning lane instead of waiting for the designated overtaking lane.

"This road is lethal," Emma said, highlighting how the poorly marked turning lane and high speeds contribute to the danger. "Many people have told me this road has been the cause of many fatal accidents. The turning lane should be clearly marked, and the speed limit, especially at this junction, should be lowered or speed cameras added."

Melvyn died at the scene as workers from the nearby Torr Works responded to the collision. Avon and Somerset Police are continuing to investigate the fatal collision and have asked any witnesses to come forward.

Emma has started a petition to Highways England and local authorities, urging them to implement these safety measures.

The petition, launched on 10th May, calls for a speed reduction on the A361, installation of speed cameras, and clearer marking of turning lanes.

"Melvyn was a huge family man who travelled fortnightly to see his son and five grandchildren in Basingstoke. He would do anything for absolutely anyone and was so loved," Emma said. "After spending time outside the quarry and researching how many lives this road has horrifically taken, I think action needs to be taken to stop any more fatalities."

His family praised Torr Works for their immediate response to the collision and thanked them in person on 9th May. Many first-aid-trained employees rushed out to the collision scene to assist, while Mark Perry comforted Melvyn by holding his hand.

The A361 is a busy road, serving as the main route between Shepton Mallet and Frome, and is frequented by heavy quarry trucks and tractors. The gradual speed buildup of these vehicles often leads to impatient drivers making dangerous overtakes.

"I don't believe this road should be a national speed limit road as 'impatient' drivers think it's ok to cross solid white lines or turning lanes to overtake slow-moving vehicles," Emma added. "Let's not lose another life on this road. Make it safer."

Investigations into the fatal crash are ongoing, including reviewing CCTV footage and speaking to drivers in the area at the time.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: "We believe there were a number of cars and a green John Deere tractor, which was towing a red silage trailer, travelling in the area at the time.

"We would ask the occupants of those vehicles to please contact us to let us know if they witnessed anything that could help our enquiries. We'd ask them, plus anyone else who witnessed the collision or has relevant dashcam, to please contact us online or on 101 quoting reference number 5224098411."

The family hopes that by raising awareness and garnering support through their petition, they can prevent other families from experiencing similar tragedies.

For those who wish to support the campaign and learn more, please visit the petition here.

     

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