Derbyshire County Council issues statement after Sam Moorhouse inquest

Sam Moorhouse with his daughter Darcy. Picture submitted.
Sam Moorhouse with his daughter Darcy. Picture submitted.

Council chiefs say they are aware of 'best practice' guidance relating to the building of roadside fencing – following an inquest into the tragic death of Sam Moorhouse.

The 27-year-old father was driving his yellow Mini Coupe on the Dronfield bypass when he overtook another car, clipped it and lost control – smashing into and destroying almost 30 metres of wooden fencing.

Mr Moorhouse, of King George Street, Wirksworth, was impaled by a piece of wood while his girlfriend, who was in the passenger's side, suffered extreme head injuries.

During Mr Moorhouse's inquest at Chesterfield coroners' court on Monday, it emerged the fencing – which was put up to separate private land from the road in the 1980s – was not erected according to 'best practice' guidelines from the Highways Agency.

PC Nigel Varney, of Derbyshire police’s collision investigation unit, told the court: "The fence was constructed with the rails on the road-side of the posts, this being contrary to best practice as set out in the Highways Agency guide manual."

Coroner James Newman said: "I'm conscious that best practice states the rails should be on the side away from the road. It adds that additional safety measure in that the rails can freely fly off away from the vehicle.

"We can't say, on the balance of probability, that the injuries would not have occurred had the fencing been put up according to these guidelines.

"However, I'll write to Derbyshire County Council to make sure the authority is aware of best practice guidelines and that they will be adhered to in the future."

A council spokesman said today: "The fencing alongside the A61 Dronfield bypass was built by the Department of Transport in accordance with appropriate standards when it constructed the road in 1986.

"Guidance has since been issued on the best practice of building new or replacement roadside fencing which now requires these structures to be erected differently.

"Responsibility for the A61 transferred to the county council in 2002. All repairs at the accident site have already been undertaken in accordance with the guidance."

Ashley Teasel told the inquest how he was driving his Vauxhall Corsa on the Dronfield bypass at about 9.15pm on January 23.

He said: "I was travelling in the slow lane. A car came up behind me, overtook me then cut back into the slow lane too soon. It clipped my vehicle and spun off."

Following the crash, Mr Teasel stopped his car and called 999. Police, paramedics and firefighters attended the scene – but mechanic Mr Moorhouse was sadly pronounced dead just before 9.45pm despite desperate attempts to save his life.

Mr Newman said: "Mr Moorhouse’s injuries are some of the most extreme I've seen reported in a post-mortem examination."

Turning to Mr Moorhouse's parents, he added: "I don't believe your son would have suffered."

The court heard Mr Moorhouse was not under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. Neither Mr Moorhouse nor Mr Teasel were speeding.

Recording a conclusion of death by a road traffic collision, Mr Newman said: "Mr Moorhouse was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He made a misjudgement. A passing impact caused his Mini to spin out of control and collide with wooden fencing."

Speaking after his son’s death, his father said Mr Moorhouse was loved by many people.