Driver's icy road nightmare

AN experienced motorist who drove along the B1077 less than an hour before this week's fatal accident, today described conditions as the worst she had ever encountered.

AN experienced motorist who drove along the B1077 less than an hour before this week's fatal accident, today described conditions as the worst she had ever encountered.

Barbara Wardropper said: “It was like an ice rink. I was absolutely terrified driving along there.

“I drive along that road almost every day. I know it very well. It is normally very safe but on Tuesday it was terrifying. “I could not believe there was no grit on the road.”

Mrs Wardropper, 60, now lives in Earl Stonham, but used to live in Witnesham and knows the B1077 very well.

She said: “I have been driving for 40 years and I have never encountered anything like that before.

“At one stage I was tempted to abandon my car at the side of the road and continue on foot, but I thought that would be even more dangerous for me and other road users.

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“I came across the first accident just after the police had arrived and at one stage I thought I was going to crash into the police car because my brakes were simply not working, The road was like glass.”

Suffolk County Council had not gritted the road on Wednesday morning, although its lorries had been out on Tuesday afternoon.

However another motorist who lives in Witnesham said she used the B1077 on Tuesday at around 3pm and she did not recall it being gritted

She said: “It had started to drizzle while I was driving and the temperature was getting colder.

“I also used this road again on Tuesday night at around 9pm and again I saw no sign of any grit.

“The roads had already frozen some time before. I turned to my son travelling with me and said to him they should be out gritting these roads.

“These country roads take a long time to melt, as most are sheltered by trees and bushes.”

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County Council's response

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said a gritter had been sent to the B1077 from Melton once the council received a call from Suffolk police asking it to grit the road.

She added: “We have ten depot places strategically across the county so they do not have to travel too far.

“Melton was closer than Blakenham because of the route it had to take, and the amount of traffic would have made it quicker from Melton.”

She said that although they could not say an exact time that the gritters reached the B1077 on Tuesday afternoon they would have left the depot at around 3pm.

She added: Our thoughts are with the family at this sad time.

“As is the case with any fatal accident on Suffolk roads, we will be fully cooperating with Suffolk police during their investigation.

”At this early stage we do not know enough detail on what the possible causes of the accident were. Any speculation at this moment, without knowing the facts, would be both insensitive and may prejudice any future investigation.

“We would like remind anyone travelling on our roads, whether they are trunk roads like the A14 or small rural roads to take extra care as at this time of year, that weather conditions can make driving difficult and dangerous.

Yesterday Guy McGregor, county council highways spokesman said that highly trained and professional members of staff took decisions on whether to grit the roads and there were many factors to consider.

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