'Opportunities missed' to act on warnings about flood prone Sheffield road prior to horror crash

Sean Salvin pictured with his dad Craig
Sean Salvin pictured with his dad Craig

'Opportunities were missed' to act on warnings about a Sheffield road prone to flooding prior to a horror crash that saw a 20-year-old man fatally career into a tree, a coroner has ruled.

Sean Salvin lost control of his car and ploughed into a tree while driving along Ecclesfield Road, on a stretch known as Woolley Wood Bottom, in heavy rain on December 30, 2015.

Concluding an inquest into the death of Mr Salvin on Friday, Senior Sheffield Coroner, Christopher Dorries, told the court that had all of the available information provided to authorities been 'fully collected and properly collated' measures could have been put in place that may have been able to prevent the 20-year-old's death.

The relevant authorities referred to by Mr Dorries were South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield City Council, Amey and Yorkshire Water.

He said: "Because of failures to collect, share and collate information, opportunities had been missed during the month of Decemeber 2015 for authorities to realise that there was an increasing problem of flooding at that location.

"Thus no remedial measures were taken which could have avoided the incident in which Mr Salvin lost his life."

Mr Dorries said he was of the view a 'suitable system of work for the State to protect life' was arguably not in place on Ecclesfield Road at the time of Mr Salvin's collision.

The court was told how at the time of Mr Salvin's collision at around 10.30pm on December 30, 2015, water had gathered at the low point of the road, as much as four inches deep at both road edges and just covering the white line in the centre.

Evidence provided to the court detailed how the water, which had formed in an H shape, was some 60 metres in length.

Mr Dorries explained: "It was described that the car had not aquaplaned but would have been pulled to the nearside by the deeper water. Mr Salvin had made a correction that likely took him over the white line and in to the deeper water on the offside causing another correction.

"The automatic reaction of a driver being pulled to one side would in fact be an over-correction and this caused the loss of control, the vehicle spinning through 75 degrees and hitting the tree with the driver's door about 50 metres beyond the water."

Sheffield Coroners' Court heard that in December 2015 alone, five people have been recorded as losing control of their vehicle on the same stretch of road due to flooding.

Three of the recorded incidents took place within an hour of Mr Salvin's fatal collision.

At 9.30pm that evening, a female driver suffered some loss of control while travelling southbound along the road because of water at the same point, which she later described as looking like a 'mirror'.

Around half an hour later Edward Leigh travelled down the same stretch of road and also suffered a loss of control, following which Mr Leigh phoned the police to inform them after witnessing a collision in the same spot in November 2014.

Shortly before Mr Salvin's collision another male driver also lost control of his vehicle as a result of the flooding. Police received a second call concerning the flooding from a passing PCSO at around 10pm.

Amey, who look after the city's roads on behalf of the council, received a call from police at 10.02pm, and put an 'urgent response' into place - meaning they aim to attend within an hour.

A crew with the appropriate equipment arrived on the scene at 11pm, approximately half an hour after Mr Salvin's collision.

Mr Dorries recorded a verdict of narrative conclusion.

He told the court he intended to pass his findings on the failure of the authorities to act on warning passed on them about the flooding dangers on Ecclesfield Road to Chief

Coroner His Honour Judge Mark Lucraft QC in a bid to prevent other deaths.

Mr Dorries said it was not the role of the coroners' court to attribute blame to one particular authority, adding this was a matter for the civil courts.

He concluded the inquest by passing on his 'sincere condoloences' to the family of Mr Salvin, who were present in court.