Investigating officer says ‘limited visibility’ due to streets lights being switched off in Northamptonshire was a factor in fatal accident

Kettering Magistrates Court
Kettering Magistrates Court

The family of a pedestrian who died after he was knocked down by a van have welcomed safety measures brought in after investigating police were critical of street lights being switched off in the area.

Ian Holloway was hit by a silver Ford Transit van as he crossed Weldon Road in Corby near the junction at Tesco and Station Road at around 5.20pm on December 10 last year. He died two days later of head injuries in Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry.

The investigating officer told an inquest yesterday, Thursday, that visibility in the area had deteriorated after the street lights were switched off. New safety measures have been introduced since the tragic accident.

During an inquest into Mr Hollowell’s death at Kettering Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Thursday) the driver of the van, Corby-based building business-owner Patrick Schalbetter, said that the 65-year-old, from Bentinck Way, Blackpool, “came out of nowhere” and he “didn’t know what happened.”

Mr Schalbetter said: “Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw some movement to my left and, the next thing I knew, I heard a bang and caught site of something in the air. I went to look out of my left wing mirror but saw it was missing, so I stopped straight away and ran back to find a man lying in the road.

“There were some people there and a lady asked if I was alright, and an off-duty police officer said there was nothing I could have done. We tried to keep the man warm, I rubbed his hands.

“For the last few months I have been trying to work out how I didn’t see him coming and I wish someone could tell me what happened. He came out of nowhere. The traffic was busy in all directions and it was not a suitable place to cross.”

John Underwood, forensic collision investigator at Northamptonshire Police, confirmed that Mr Schalbetter, who said he was not exceeding the 40mph speed limit, had not been driving carelessly or dangerously.

He said: “Mr Holloway collided with the car about six or seven metres into the road, which would have taken him about two to three seconds to get there. Visibility deteriotes suddenly after that junction as some of the street lights were not switched on due to austerity measures. Pedestrians notoriously understimate their conspicuity and it would have been much easier for Mr Holloway to see Mr Schalbetter’s van than it would have been for Mr Schalbetter to see Mr Holloway, who was wearing dark clothing.

“It is my opinion that this accident occurred due to a misjudgement on the part of Mr Holloway, which could have been avoided had he been aware of a nearby pedestrian crossing.”

Because he had come out of Station Road, the court heard that it would have been unlikely for Mr Holloway to have seen the pedestrian crossing, as he was already further down the road. Since the incident, a new pedestrian crossing has been installed in the area and more lights have been switched on.

At the time of the incident, witnesses called the emergency services but Mr Holloway died of a head injury after first colliding with the left side of the van and then the road.

Hassan Shah, assistant coroner for northamptonshire concluded that Mr Holloway died as the result of a road traffic collision, with the precise cause of death being a head injury.

Following the hearing, Mr Holloway’s younger brother, Allan, said: “We heard the outcome we expected today. I believe it was an accident and we don’t hold any grudges against Mr Schalbetter. Ian was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“We are pleased that the local authorities have put some money into the traffic measures in that area to stop something like this happening again in the future.

“I loved my brother very much and he will be missed.”