Family asked to remove roadside tributes to son killed in A281 crash

The family of a young cyclist killed at a ‘lethal’ crossing on the A281 have been asked to remove tributes left at the scene.

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 4:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 2:06 pm

Student Pathushan Sutharsan was taking part in a charity bike ride on the Downs Link when he was involved in a fatal crash with a lorry at Rudgwick in July last year.

Flowers, photos and moving mementos have been left at the roadside where the crash happened - a spot where the Downs Link is split in two by the busy A281.

But now his devastated family have been asked by West Sussex County Council to remove the tributes because, the council says, they cause a ‘distraction’ to passing drivers.

Tributes left at the side of the A281 at its junction with the Downs Link

Pathushan’s death sparked fresh calls for a bridge to be built at the spot over the A281 and a campaign group - Bridge The Downs Link - have stepped up pressure for action.

Both they and local residents have been demanding for years that West Sussex County Council make the crossing safe.

A spokesperson for the campaign group said: “The best way to honour Pathu’s memory with a permanent memorial would be to build a bridge across this dangerous stretch of road.”

She added that the mementos left at the scene were “not actually on highways land.

“Traffic speeding past hardly sees the crossing, let alone the tributes.”

A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “We appreciate what a difficult time this is for Pathushan’s family and friends and would like to convey our condolences to them.

“Members of the public raised concerns about the memorial causing a distraction for road users, so a highways officer visited the site and confirmed those concerns.

“Safety is always of paramount importance, so we had no option but to ask the family to remove the memorial so it can be placed elsewhere.

“The question of roadside tributes is always a very sensitive one to resolve, which is why we introduced a policy called ‘Roadside Memorials and Tributes’ some years ago.

“It clarifies that permanent roadside memorials are not permitted on the county’s highway and includes a series of guidelines that try to balance the need for people to have a period of grieving against instances where very legitimate safety concerns might arise – in which case we ask families to please remove the tribute.”