M1 smart motorway crash that killed two near Sheffield ‘would not have happened with hard shoulder’

Widow Sally Jacobs told ITV News she would never get over her husband's death and never get closure

A crash on a smart motorway which left two pensioners dead would not have happened if there had been a hard shoulder, a coroner has said.

Derek Jacobs, 83, from Edgware, died when his van was hit by a car near Sheffield in March 2019 after he had stopped in the live inside lane following a tyre blow-out and got out of the vehicle.

The front seat passenger in the Ford Ka that hit the van, Charles Scripps, 78, died in hospital two months after the collision.

The red car, being driven by Mr Scripps’s wife Jean, was shown on dashcam footage flipping over in the carriageway and ending up on its side before it was hit by a coach.

A coroner said the crash would not have happened if there had been a hard shoulder.

Speaking to ITV News Derek Jacobs' widow Sally said: "Mrs Scripps would not have been in that lane had there been a hard shoulder.

Sally Jacobs Credit: ITV News

"First I felt anger towards her but now I have nothing but compassion. She’s not only killed my husband she’s killed her own."

Concluding that both men died as a result of a road traffic collision, assistant coroner Susan Evans told Chesterfield Coroner’s Court: “Smart motorways are hugely controversial because of the lack of any hard shoulder for motorists to use in times of need such as occurred here.

“It is immediately apparent that, had there been a hard shoulder, this incident would not have occurred because Mr Jacobs would have been able to pull off the live lane entirely.”

But the coroner added: “That said, there are many roads in the road network, including dual carriageway A-roads, that are subject to the national speed limit and do not have the benefit of any hard shoulder.”

Sally said she would never get any closure and didn't go to the inquest because she feared it would be a whitewash.

She added: "I’ll never get over it. You say goodbye to the man you’ve loved for 66 years in the morning and you never see him again. You never get over that. I urge everyone to make your voice heard that this is wrong.

"We have safety in food and aircraft - you don’t take lifeboats off and say we don’t use them very often! It’s ridiculous.

"By staying away from the inquest I showed my contempt that they showed me for four years."

The coroner said it was clear Mrs Scripps did not see the stationary van before she collided with it.

“For reasons we will never know, she appeared to have not been paying attention to the road,” she added.

Anti-smart motorway campaigners were unhappy that the coroner declined to make any safety recommendations.

National Highways said the families of Mr Jacobs and Mr Scripps had their deepest sympathies, adding: “It is vitally important to learn lessons from every road traffic collision and we will continue to build on the work and safety improvements already under way, taking all the necessary steps to help drivers and passengers feel and be safe.”

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