Road safety campaigner fears further collisions on the A697 in Northumberland after two die in smash

A campaigner fears there could be further collisions after two pensioners died at an accident blackspot on the A697 in Northumberland.

Thursday, 10th October 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 10th October 2019, 7:00 am
Emergency services at the scene of a collision on the A697. Picture: Steve Miller
Emergency services at the scene of a collision on the A697. Picture: Steve Miller

Amble man James Johnston, a D-Day veteran of the Normandy landings, and Pearl Smith from Wooler, died in a collision close to the New Moor House crossroads on Friday afternoon.

It follows a string of smashes in Northumberland in recent weeks, including a fatal collision on the A1 northbound at Belford on Sunday, September 29.

“It is very sad to see another tragedy on the A697,” said Coun Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services at Northumberland County Council.

An air ambulance at the scene. Picture: Steve Miller

Coun Sanderson, a long-time campaigner for road safety improvements on the road, believes problems are exacerbated as more drivers are using the route as an alternative to the A1.

He said: “This is a road that the county council has invested in through a number of safety measures over recent years, but the road is carrying more and diverse types of traffic.

“The worry is that once work begins on the A1 dualling then more vehicles will use this road which will not only impact the local villages on the road, but potentially increase the risk of accidents.”

Lee Johnson, posting on Facebook, wrote: “Such sad news. Johnny (James) was a true gentleman and it was a pleasure and an honour to have known him. God bless both. RIP.”

The New Moor House crossroads on the A697. Picture: Google

Veronica Okeefe added: “Rest In Peace, uncle Johnny and the lady passenger Pearl.”

Mr Johnson and Mrs Smith, both 96, were rear-seat passengers in a blue Dacia Duster which was involved in a collision with a grey Great Wall Steed pick-up shortly after 3pm.

The 34-year-old female driver of the Dacia and a 61-year-old female passenger were both taken to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

The 19-year-old male driver of the Great Wall Steed pick-up and a 21-year-old male passenger were also taken to hospital with serious injuries.

The driver has now been discharged, but the front-seat passenger remains in a critical, but stable condition.

Anyone with information is asked to call Northumbria Police on 101, quoting log reference 650 04/10/19 or on the Northumbria Police website.