Parents-to-be killed in crash after Give Way sign was ‘turned the wrong way’

Parents-to-be killed in crash after Give Way sign was ‘turned the wrong way’

The young couple died in a collision last summer (Picture: Facebook)

Two parents-to-be died at a ‘treacherous’ junction due to a Give Way sign ‘turned the wrong way’, an inquest heard.

Josh Alexander, 21, and Jessica Poole, 18, were both killed when the white Vauxhall Corsa they were travelling in was involved in a smash with a DAF truck in Ashford, Kent.

At an inquest in Maidstone last week, cops said they believe ‘heavily worn’ road markings and a rotated Give Way sign contributed to the crash.

PC Simon Masterson, a forensic collision investigator with Kent Police, said: ‘The Give Way sign on Plurenden Road, which was 11 metres from the junction, was rotated by 61 degrees.

‘The road markings were heavily worn in several places. The approach triangle was also worn but discernible.

‘There were no warning signs at Plurenden Road of the crossroads ahead. This could have caused confusion to the driver approaching.

‘The worn lines and the rotated sign could have been a contributing factor.’

They announced their pregnancy on social media (Picture: Facebook)

Jessica Poole was just 18 years old when she died (Picture: Facebook)

Josh was expecting a child with Jessica (Picture: Facebook)

PC Masterson also said Josh, who was driving, appeared ‘calm and in control’ of the vehicle – but was distracted by his phone for a brief moment.

PC Masterson added: ‘I’m confident his arm was stretched out to touch the phone. Josh failed to recognise he was approaching a junction.

‘He interacts with a mobile phone immediately before entering Bethersden Road. His actions suggest he was not aware of the junction ahead.’

While investigating the crash, PC Masterson said he had used satellite navigation apps including Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze – like Josh had been using – and all failed to give an alert about the junction.

No drugs or alcohol were found in Josh’s system or Jessica’s.

The couple had been on their way to work at Happy Valley Chinese in Tenterden, to earn extra cash ahead of the arrival of their baby boy, who they were ‘excited’ to meet.

PC Masterson also mentioned the front air bags of Josh’s car did not deploy but the outcome would not have been any different even if it had.

Jessica loved horses, friends said (Picture: Facebook)

Josh was described as his father’s ‘proudest achievement’ (Picture: Facebook)

Coroner Katrina Hepburn wrote to Kent County Council (KCC) to see what changes have been made to the junction since the accident before considering whether she will write a ‘prevention of future deaths’ report.

Since the accident, the lines have now been repainted on the road and the give way sign has been put back to the correct position.

The pair had only announced months previously that they were expecting their first child – a baby boy due in November 2023 – and had been delivering food on the side for extra cash ahead of their baby’s arrival.

Josh’s father, Ben Sissens, described his son as his ‘proudest achievement’ and says the ‘void I feel can never be filled’.

Jessica’s friend, Jess Pantry, said it was ‘an honour to have known’ her and that she was ‘too young to have her life taken away so cruelly’.

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She wrote: ‘Fly high sweetheart. Be with your partner, your baby, your dad, and your pony. I hope Nellie comes galloping to greet you.’

Coroner Katrina Hepburn told the Maidstone hearing: ‘There was nothing to suggest they were travelling at excessive speed.

‘Whilst we speculate about whether or not he saw the sign, or if the mobile phone was in use, I don’t make any findings in relation to this.

‘The crash caused significant and catastrophic injuries and the deaths were due to a road traffic collision.’

Coroner Hepburn will now write to KCC’s highways department regarding what improvements have been made at the crossroads. 

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