Mum-of-three fights for life

PUBLISHED: 18:59 08 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:30 03 March 2010

MOTHER of three Kathy Sparkes is fighting for her life today after her car collided with a lorry and ploughed into a pub in an horrific accident on a notorious Suffolk road.

MOTHER of three Kathy Sparkes is fighting for her life today after her car collided with a lorry and ploughed into a pub in an horrific accident on a notorious Suffolk road.

Her worried husband, who went looking for her when she failed to arrive home, stumbled across the road carnage scene on the A140 and saw his wife's wrecked vehicle crushed between a heavy goods vehicle and a building.

It's the third serious crash at exactly the same spot in eight years and has prompted The Evening Star today to launch a campaign to Make the A140 Safer.

Nurse Kathy Sparkes was driving to her Church View, Wyverstone, home from work at around 7am yesterday when the accident happened at the Stoke Ash crossroads on the A140 near Eye.

She had to be cut free from the wreckage of her car by firefighters before being taken to Ipswich Hospital and then transferred to the neuro-surgical unit at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge where she remains in a "critical" condition.

Today, her father Brian Lockie told how his son-in-law Paul and the couple's eldest child Chris, 13, were at her bedside. Grandparents were looking after the Sparkes' two younger children, Zoe, 11, and Thomas, seven.

Former ambulance crewman Mr Lockie, 68, said he used to work the notorious stretch of road where his daughter was critically injured and that nothing had changed to make the A140 safer in decades.

"I used to be in the ambulance service and was talking to an ex-crew mate who is still in the service who was saying that that damned road hasn't changed since the late '70s. It's shocking really.

"This is the problem. It's not the first time."

Mr Lockie told how his 36-year-old daughter was on her way home from a nursing shift at Hartismere, north of Eye, when the accident happened.

Realising she was late, her husband Paul went to look for her and "ran into the accident", said Mr Lockie, who lives in London.

"Kathy is brilliant," Mr Lockie said of his daughter.

"She never wanted to be anything but a nurse from the age of five. Back in the '70s we lost her brother to cancer. He used to have chemotherapy and would want to come home [from hospital]. A few hours after he'd got home he would get very sick."

Eight-year-old Kathy would care for her brother "patting him and looking after him", Mr Lockie said.

Jean Lockie, Mrs Sparkes' mum who lives in Elm Street, Ipswich, said: "She's got very bad chest injuries which is a concern. She's under sedation. She has head injuries. It's really just a waiting game now."

Meanwhile, business was back to normal at the White Horse Inn today, where the pub's 16th Century porch was demolished in yesterday's crash.

But the pub's owner Shane Aldridge, 28, called for steps to make the dangerous stretch of road safer. "There's been a fatality there before. If something can be done it should be done," he said.

"It's because of the speed of traffic coming through and then the crossroads with slow moving traffic."

Two men were killed in a road crash involving a lorry, Land Rover and two metro cars outside the pub in Stoke Ash on April 14, 1994. Less than two years later, a car ploughed into the White Horse Inn at same the notorious crossroads.

Yesterday's accident came less than 12 hours after a bizarre road crash on the A14 at Claydon which left five people with minor injuries.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the smash involving two cars – a Portuguese-registered vehicle towing a Diahatsu – and a lorry at around 8.50pm on Wednesday, March 6, on the Ipswich-bound carriageway near the Great Blakenham flyover.

The accident happened when a length of hosing which was being used as a towrope broke and a heavy goods vehicle ploughed into one of the cars.

Witnesses to both crashes are asked to contact Suffolk police's traffic division on 01473 613500.

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