Driver, 60, was killed in front of wife and grandchildren when block of concrete fell off lorry and smashed through windscreen on family day out strawberry picking, inquest hears

  • Stephen Oscroft was driving with his wife and two grandchildren on July 7
  • A large concrete block fell from a truck and hit his car in Nottinghamshire 
  • Mr Oscroft, from Shirebrook, Derbyshire died instantly following the incident 
  • A man was held on suspicion of dangerous driving but released without charge 

A ‘doting’ grandfather was killed in front of his wife and grandchildren when a block of concrete fell off a lorry and smashed through his windscreen on a family day out strawberry picking, an inquest heard.

Steven Oscroft died instantly in the tragedy in Perlethorpe cum Budby, Nottinghamshire, after the rubble, which weighed more than a bowling ball, fell from a truck passing in the opposite direction.

The 60-year-old suffered ‘catastrophic’ injuries in the ‘rare traffic collision’, Nottingham Coroner’s Court was told.

His wife, Denise and two grandchildren, who were also in the Hyundai iX35 at the time, escaped unhurt.

A 64-year-old man was arrested shortly after the incident on suspicion of dangerous driving – but released without charge after Nottinghamshire Police’s serious collision investigation decided the driver of the lorry or the haulage company involved had committed no criminal offences.

Steven Oscroft, 60, of Shirebrook, Derbyshire was driving through Nottinghamshire when the incident happened on July 7

Mr Oscroft’s devastated family say they are struggling to come to terms with his death.

They have also called for stricter rules for drivers and companies which carry heavy loads, along with tougher penalties for those who break them.

Mrs Oscroft, of Shirebrook, Derbyshire, said after the hearing: ‘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 Mrs Oscroft.

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.’

The incident happened on July 7 last year when Mr and Mrs Oscroft decided to seize the opportunity to take their grandchildren strawberry picking during an easing of lockdown restrictions.

The inquest heard Mrs Oscroft saw a piece of concrete fall from a tipper truck travelling towards them, then heard a smash before turning to see her husband had suffered ‘extensive’ head injuries.

A slab measuring 20cm and weighing 8.5kg was recovered from the car dashboard.

Mr Oscroft’s family added: ‘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.’

The grandfather of four died at the scene after the block went through the windscreen of his car, pictured

The inquest concluded 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, Notts.

Assistant Coroner for Notts, Gordon Clow said he would be preparing a Preventing Future deaths report, in a bid to stop a repeat of the tragedy, and asking the firm to supply evidence that action is 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.

Mrs Oscroft 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.’

Becky added: ‘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.’

And 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 lives.

‘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 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.’

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