Warnham campaigners fight for safety after Easter tragedy

The Easter Sunday accident left one woman dead
The Easter Sunday accident left one woman dead

CAMPAIGNERS are preparing to fight for their safety as they aim to dramatically slash the A24 speed limit in half.

A Warnham mother told the County Times this week of her 37-year ordeal of coping with a catalogue of A24 disasters following Easter Sunday’s ‘desperately tragic’ collision which left one woman dead.

Kellie Oldfield returned home from work to find the wreckage of two cars and the body of a deceased passenger in her garden.

56-year-old Hawerun Nessa, of Fourth Avenue, London W10, was pronounced dead at the scene, while a 22-month-old girl was left fighting for her life after a Honda Accord ripped through Kellie’s fence.

Four other members of the same family, including two girls aged five and three, a 26-year-old woman and the 34-year-old driver, were all rushed to St George’s Hospital in Tooting with serious injuries.

Emergency services, including two air ambulances, six land ambulances, fire crews and police were scrambled to the incident at around 11.30am.

The busy road was closed for more than five hours as crews battled to save lives.

The driver of the Volkswagen Golf, a 60-year-old man from Epsom, was taken to hospital with a broken sternum. His 59-year-old female passenger, also from Epsom, was treated for whiplash and shock.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue crews from Horsham and Crawley issued first aid and oxygen to passengers before handing the incident over to police at 12.38pm.

Kellie, who lives opposite the Station Road junction, and was brought up in the house next door, has dealt with a life-time of road accidents on the treacherous stretch of A24.

But the horrific scenes last weekend were the worst she had ever witnessed.

Now she is calling for new safety measures in a bid to reduce future tragedies from drivers travelling at speeds she brands ‘ridiculous’.

Kellie, mother of an eight-year-old girl, said: “I got home from work and there was a dead body in my garden.

“At about 1.30pm the police were still there, the road was still closed off and the lady was there covered up. I was shocked.”

Thankfully, her daughter was not in the garden at the time, but Kellie said ‘we could have been hunting for Easter eggs and God-forbid what would have happened’.

“I won’t allow her to play near the fence,” she added.

The Warnham veteran has witnessed countless accidents, including a petrol tanker which crashed near her childhood home, almost forcing the family to be evacuated.

She has even come to the rescue of past crash victims.

The latest A24 crash occurred just yards away from the scene where a teenage footballer from Horsham was airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries following a collision in early December last year.

Kellie was one of the first on the scene to help save George Magnus’ life.

She said: “I was indoors with my daughter and we just a bang and saw the car.

“So I ran out and went to see how he was and help. He was semi-conscious and bleeding from his ears and nose. I was told not to move him and the ambulance arrived pretty quickly.”

George Magnus, a Loxwood defender described by the manager as having ‘a great future’ in football, had to be cut from a blue MG by fire crew.

The former Collyer’s student is now on the road to a full recovery.

Speaking about the dangerous stretch of the A24 through Warnham, Kellie said: “People don’t go slow, it’s ridiculous, they’re doing 60, 70mph down here.

She confirmed the Easter Sunday smash was the ‘worst accident’ because ‘I’ve never seen anyone who’s died’.

She added: “I want to see the Highways Agency put in rumble strips, cameras or something.”

Sergeant Paul Skinner from the Sussex Police Road Policing Unit, said: “This is a desperately tragic incident that left a toddler fighting for her life.

“A full investigation is now under way and I would ask that anyone who witnessed the incident or who may have seen either of the cars in the area in the time leading up to the crash, to please call Sussex Police on 101 quoting Operation Smallbridge.

“The road was closed for just over five hours while rescue and recovery work took place and while I appreciate that this did cause traffic problems in the area, I am sure people will appreciate the seriousness of this incident and I thank them for their patience and understanding.”

The 22-month-girl remained in a ‘critical but stable’ condition in hospital on Tuesday (April 10), said Sussex Police.

Her sisters are still in hospital recovering broken legs. The other Honda passengers - the 26-year-old woman and the 34-year-old driver - were discharged on Tuesday.

Readers have since contacted the County Times as they plan to fight the county council in a bid to reduce the A24 speed limit.

The full story will be in next week’s County Times.