The family of a man who died when a block of concrete fell on to his car from a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction have described the horrifying moment their lives changed forever in an instant.
Steven Oscroft was taking his two grandchildren out strawberry picking in Ollerton when the incident happened in Netherfield Lane in Perlethorpe cum Budby.
The 60-year-old from Shirebrook, who’s been described as a ‘doting granddad’, had wanted to seize an opportunity for a family day out during the easing of lockdown measures on 7 July last year.
He died instantly at the scene when the concrete smashed through the windscreen of his Hyundai IX35 while his wife and two grandchildren who were also in the car were unharmed.
His widow, Denise Oscroft, said: “What I’d seen that day and what my grandchildren had seen, it must have been terrible for them. That’s all I keep thinking about – what those kids have seen.
“One minute we’re just taking the grandchildren out strawberry picking and we went for ice cream and then just like that… our lives had changed forever.”
His daughters, Becky Marsh and Kelly Kirby, were called straight to the scene by their mum.
Becky said: “She just said: he’s gone, but it wasn’t mum, it was like she wasn’t there, she was in shock.
“I looked at the car and saw there was a huge hole in it and I just went running shouting dad because I just didn’t believe it was true.”
Kelly added: “It was like an out of body experience, we couldn’t believe it was happening to us. And I still think it’s an out of body experience, I don’t think we’ll ever get used to life without dad.”
A 64-year-old man was arrested shortly afterwards on suspicion of dangerous driving and released without charge after Nottinghamshire’s serious collision investigation concluded there were no offences against the driver or the haulage company in question. The case then was then directed to the Nottinghamshire Coroner’s office.
The family say they still find his death very difficult to accept: “He was so full of life, just happy all the time… kind, caring, he just loved his family and couldn’t do enough for the grandchildren.
“We’re just in autopilot. We’ve stuck together and focused on the grandchildren because Steve would have said: “as long as those kids are alright then you’re alright.
“We’re taking one day at a time because if you do let yourself think of forever without dad then that’s when it hits you and it gets hard.”
Today (Tuesday 5 May), the inquest determined that Mr Oscroft died as a result of a road traffic collision after a piece of concrete fell from an uncovered part of a lorry from Paul Wainwright Construction Services, of Hucknall.
Assistant Coroner for Nottinghamshire Mr Gordon Clow also said he would be preparing a Preventing Future deaths report and would be requiring Wainwrights to supply evidence that actions are being taken, including improved driver training and working practices. He said he would also call for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to clarify legislation around securing lorry loads.
Mr Oscroft had been rendered completely powerless to prevent his death but his adoring family believe these incidents shouldn’t have happened and want to see stricter rules for drivers and companies which carry loads along with tougher penalties for those who break them.
They also encourage all drivers to have a dash-cam fitted in order to record dangerous driving incidents.
Denise said: “In my eyes, it wasn’t an accident, it could have been prevented had there been a decent netting on the tipper that passed us. It was concrete that fell and that netting couldn’t have stopped anything from falling.
“We’d like to see proper sheeting on all trucks and loads not piled high. We want to change the securing methods so it’s a full round sheet tucked in at the sides,” Becky added.
Kelly said: “There seems to be a lot of grey areas with drivers themselves, they don’t seem sure of the regulations. We’re proof that things can fall off and ruin people’s life.
“There’s no happy ending for us, we’re never going to get Dad back, but we’d like to think that somebody else wouldn’t have to go through this.”
Detective Sergeant Adam Cooper, who led the serious collision investigation, said: “The family have just been remarkable considering what they have gone through.
“They’ve been so strong and supportive to the investigation and they are really trying to make a difference to unsafe loads so that this doesn’t happen again.
“Our enquiries along with the Coroner’s conclusion cements that Mr Oscroft’s death could have been prevented and perhaps that might serve as some comfort to his loved ones.
“The case also stands as a stark reminder to all drivers and companies to ensure their loads are fit for the roads. If not for the good of the law, for their own conscience so that they don’t head out one day and end up with blood on their hands.”