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Thursday, 28 August 2014

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Families pay tribute to Cumbria crashes victims

Grieving families have paid tribute to two men who died as a result of separate crashes in north Cumbria.

George Atkinson, 88, of Thursby, died in hospital where he was being treated for serious head injuries following a collision at Wigton.

The Ford Fiesta he was driving was involved in a crash with a lorry on the A596 on Friday.

His family have revealed he was returning home from shopping trip when the tragedy happened.

Mr Atkinson, who had lived in Thursby for nearly 20 years, having moved there from Waverton with his late wife Kathleen, was well-known in the area, particularly for repairing lawnmowers. He was also a keen draughts player at Thursby village Hall.

His daughter Shirley said: "He will be sadly missed by his family, friends and his neighbours."

Mr Atkinson was one of three people who died during a tragic 24 hours on the region's roads.

Investigations are underway into separate fatal collisions which each claimed a life.

The first tragedy happened at the Golden Fleece roundabout, just off junction 42 of the M6 on the edge of Carlisle, on Friday morning.

The second was a crash involving a car and a lorry on the A596 Wigton bypass just a few hours later. Meanwhile, emergency services dealth with a multiple-vehicle collision on the A74(M), north of Gretna, in which one person had died.

All of the incidents led to road closures and diversions while emergency services cleared the scenes and launched investigations into how they happened.

The victim in Golden Fleece crash was a lorry driver.

He was named today as Matthew Edward Fulcher, 42, of Ferryside, Carmarthenshire in South Wales.

His wife, Meriel Fulcher, said: “Matt was the best kind of man imaginable whose good heart equaled his great physical stature, loved by all whose lives he touched, and a truly wonderful father who was his little girl’s hero.

"He will be deeply and profoundly missed. His passing leaves us all devastated and with the utmost resolve to ensure this great man’s memory is kept alive for his beloved daughter, Kimi.”

The trailer his lorry was pulling overturned and there were major delays as its load was recovered during what police described as a “complicated process”.

A Cumbria police spokeswoman said: “The heavy goods vehicle was carrying substantial sides of beef which have been very difficult to manoeuvre and recover due to their size and weight.”

Mr Atkinson, meanwhile, died after suffering head injuries in the collision near Wigton.

He was driving a Ford Fiesta car which was in collision with a Volvo HGV at about 10.45am.

Firefighters from Aspatria and Carlisle were sent to the scene, where – supported by paramedics and the crew of the Great North Air Ambulance – they used specialist cutting equipment to free the car driver.

Station manager Stuart Adams said: “The exact details of how the collision occurred are still being investigated, but the lorry ultimately was in collision with the driver’s side of the car.”

Mr Atkinson  was airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle with serious head injuries but died yesterday afternoon.

His family is being supported by police.

The driver of the lorry, a man aged in his sixties from Silloth, was uninjured.

Officers appealed for a second lorry driver, who they said may have witnessed the moments leading up to the crash, to come forward.

That man since has contacted police.

The A596 was closed at the section between Oulton and Station Road, beside the pedestrian footbridge over the road, for more than five hours as emergency services carried out their work.

Traffic was brought to a standstill through Wigton itself as motorists battled to find alternative routes.

Anyone who witnessed the collision is asked to contact Cumbria’s roads policing unit on 101.

Police are working with the families of the two men who died in north Cumbria to formally identify them.

More details about them will be released once that work has been completed.

The third man died in the collision on the A74(M) between Ecclefechan and Eaglesfield in Dumfriesshire. That led to part of the main England-Scotland road being closed for more than 12 hours. Emergency services were first called out just before 12.30am yesterday.

His next of kin are being informed.

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