Last Saturday (8th November) at about 11am there was a tragic accident in Old Malden Lane near Worcester Park. From various newspaper and police reports, it seems that a 39 year-old lady was running along the section of that road that doesn’t have a footpath when she was struck by a van (possibly overtaking another vehicle). The air ambulance was called and flew her to St.George’s Hospital, Tooting where she died the next day apparently from head injuries. The 34 year-old driver of the van was arrested on scene and has been bailed by Surrey Police until 8th January (more of that later).
Some reports say the victim of this accident was a mother but at the time of writing this blog entry no details about her or her family have been published. Whether she had children of not, she has been deprived of her life and those expecting to spend Christmas with her will now spend it mourning not celebrating. Thousands of us set off at weekends on our ‘long run’ saying the very briefest of ‘goodbyes’ to our loved ones in the expectation that we will be returning later albeit hot, sweaty and tired. I can honestly say that I have never left home on a run thinking that it will the last time that I’ll see my family and the final time they’ll see me alive.
An incident like this therefore serves to remind all of us who run on the streets just how dangerous it is to use roads without footpaths. I have run down Old Malden Lane many times in the past and there is no doubt that it is a danger to anyone on foot. Drivers frequently ‘iron out’ the bends at speed and, if stuck behind someone who is driving slower than them, I have seen extremely risky overtakes conducted in the middle ‘straight section’ near the River Club. I have seen calls for traffic calming measures, a speed camera, better street lighting and footpaths all voiced over social media. If anyone from the police or local council reads this then I’d like them to add me as one calling for some sort of action.
Out of all the reports I read about the accident there was one thing that struck me as particularly unjust. The driver of the van that hit this poor lady is not in custody. He has been bailed by the police until January. So he is still able to drive and he will get his Christmas with his family and friends. I don’t know why he wasn’t charged within 24 hours of the accident and I doubt I’m ever going to find out. However given that Death by Dangerous Driving carries a maximum sentence of 14 years and Death by Careless Driving a maximum of 5, it would seem likely that, if he is found guilty, the driver is going to prison. Ironically I believe the accident happened in the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary’s constituency so perhaps he will do something about it.
I won’t be running down Old Malden Lane again and I hope I don’t see anyone else doing it. I run to keep fit and thus to prolong my life.