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Motorway drivers hit "wall of fog"

Motorists caught up in a car crash on the M5 in which 7 people died have told an inquest how they became disorientated driving through a "white curtain" of fog.

The crash in November 2011 involved 34 vehicles. It happened on the night a fireworks display was being held at the nearby Taunton Rugby Club.

The event organiser, Geoffrey Counsell, was cleared of breaching health and safety regulations last year. Today, a coroner heard conflicting reports about the cause of the low visibility.

Richard Lawrence reports.

M5 Crash inquests to be held spring 2014

Inquests into the deaths of seven people who were killed in a crash on the M5 in Somerset will take place in the spring. Coroners will open inquests into the deaths of those that died on the 31st of March.

It comes after the organiser of a nearby Firework display was cleared of breaking health and safety laws. Geoffrey Counsel was cleared of breaking health and safety laws earlier this month.


Date set for inquest

A date’s been set for an inquest into the deaths of seven people who died in a crash on the M5 near Taunton two years ago.

34 vehicles were involved in the pile-up and fire in November 2011, making it one of the worst motorway accidents in the country.

Geoffrey Counsell, who staged a fireworks display at nearby Taunton Rugby Club ground, was cleared last week of breaching health and safety laws amid claims drivers could not see because of smoke drifting across the road.

West Somerset Coroner, Michael Rose says he will hold a full inquest at Taunton on March 31st.


Victims families 'devastated' by case dismissal

The daughter of a couple who were killed in the M5 crash said she was "devastated" with the result - and still blamed Geoffrey Counsell, the fireworks organiser, for the smash.

Elaine Adams, whose parents Anthony and Pamela Adams, from Newport, south Wales, died in the accident, said: "I think I speak on behalf of all the families in the crash - we are devastated."

Local council reaction

The Council is now seeking to work closely with the relevant authorities to to see if the current guidance regarding large fireworks displays, such as the one at Taunton Rugby Club, is appropriate.

We also pledge our support for any changes that may be deemed necessary.

Our primary concern is to minimise the risks of this type of unimaginable incident happening again.

On behalf of the Council, I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the families of the bereaved and the families and friends of all those affected by these terrible events.

I would also pay tribute to all those who showed such bravery at the scene, to all the emergency services and to staff at the hospitals where the injured

were treated.

– Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, Cllr John Williams

Local MP reaction

This brings to a legal end the terrible events of two years ago.

But the families affected will live with the consequences of that appalling night forever.

Although the evidence did not support a prosecution, one legacy of what happened should still be a continued effort to improve road safety.

Britain has low casualty rates compared to other European countries, but I have written to the Transport Secretary asking him to consider what more can be done to improve visibility and remove distractions along our motorway network.

– Taunton Deane MP, Jeremy Browne
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