Parents-to-be killed in car crash after road sign ‘turned the wrong way’
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Two young parents-to-be were tragically killed in a car crash at a junction after a road sign was found to be 'turned the wrong way'.
Last June, 21-year-old Josh Alexander and Jessica Poole, 18, were killed when a lorry smashed into their car in Woodchurch, Kent, mere months before they were getting ready to welcome a baby boy in November 2023.
The couple had been on their way to work at Happy Valley Chinese in Tenterden, in order to bank some extra cash ahead of the arrival of their first child.
PC Simon Masterson, a forensic collision investigator with Kent Police, has since shared a statement on the matter, informing that Josh did not realise he was approaching a junction, resulting in his car being hit by a skip lorry.
He said: "The give way sign on Plurenden Road, which was 11 metres from the junction, was rotated by 61 degrees.
"The road markings were heavily worn in several places. The approach triangle was also worn but discernible.
"There were no warning signs at Plurenden Road of the crossroads ahead. This could have caused confusion to the driver approaching.
"The worn lines and the rotated sign could have been a contributing factor."
PC Masterson added that Josh, who was driving the vehicle, appeared 'calm and in control' but was distracted by his phone for a fleeting moment.
"I’m confident his arm was stretched out to touch the phone. Josh failed to recognise he was approaching a junction," he continued.
"He interacts with a mobile phone immediately before entering Bethersden Road. His actions suggest he was not aware of the junction ahead."
After investigating the crash, PC Masterson revealed he had used satellite navigation apps including Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze – like Josh had been using – yet all three of them failed to notify users of an alert about the upcoming junction.
No drugs or alcohol were found in Josh’s system or Jessica’s, with PC Masterson also mentioning that the front air bags of Josh’s car did not deploy - but the devastating outcome would not have been any different even if it had.
Kent County Council has also shared a statement on the tragic loss.
It reads: "We are aware of the inquests and we await the letter from the coroner. Whenever there is a serious or fatal crash on one of our roads we work with Kent Police, expert engineers and coroners to investigate any causation factors that are identified.
"Once these are known we carry out any work deemed to be needed to help mitigate a similar incident from happening again.
"One death on our roads is one too many and we will continue to make sure we keep our roads safe."
Coroner Katrina Hepburn wrote to Kent County Council (KCC) to see what changes had been made to the junction since the collision, and it has been confirmed that the lines have now been repainted on the road and the give way sign has been put back to the correct position.
Coroner Katrina Hepburn told the Maidstone hearing: "There was nothing to suggest they were travelling at excessive speed.
"Whilst we speculate about whether or not he saw the sign, or if the mobile phone was in use, I don’t make any findings in relation to this.
"The crash caused significant and catastrophic injuries and the deaths were due to a road traffic collision."
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.