Navy veteran died after being hit by skip lorry in Brierley Hill

Dudley | News | Published:

A Navy war veteran and Royal British Legion fundraiser died after being knocked down by a skip lorry as its driver pulled away at a traffic light junction unable to see the 90-year-old under his front windscreen, an inquest heard.

Witnesses watched in horror as skip lorry driver Geoffrey Hawkins ran over Arnold Soulsby, who had helped sell poppies for the legion, at the crossroad junction of Bank Street and Dudley Road in Brierley Hill.

An inquest at Dudley Coroners' Court was told the lorry had no forward-facing mirrors, which created a blind spot directly in front of the vehicle.

Under new regulations brought in by the Department For Transport (DfT), all heavy goods vehicles made since 2007 must have the mirrors fitted.

Black Country Coroner Robin Balmain, who concluded Mr Arnold died from multiple injuries caused by the crash, said he was to write to the DfT, asking if anything could be done having dealt with six similar cases in the past seven years.

Mr Soulsby's daughter, Susan Rowley, also told the hearing said she was 'alarmed' the regulation did not apply to all heavy goods vehicles.

Junction of Bank Street and Dudley Road, Brierley Hill

Mr Balmain said: "For whatever reason it wasn't felt necessary to make the regulation retrospective, so it applied to new vehicles, but not to older vehicles.

"I don't know why that was done. It might be something to do with the fitting and cost of doing it, but I do share Mrs Rowley's concern about it.


"I think this is far from an isolated incident, I think I ought to draw it to Department of Transport's attention to see if they will make steps to make it retrospective.

"It is an ongoing problem, I do intend to write to department if the matter can be considered again to see if anything can be done."

Mr Hawkins had been driving the lorry to Halesowen when he pulled up at the red light in Bank Street soon after 1pm on January 30 last year.

Asked by Mr Balmain if he had seen Mr Soulsby ahead of the crash, he replied 'no'.


He said: "The lights changed to green and I went.

"I got to the next set of traffic lights and stopped.

"A car came up the side of me and told me what happened and that was the first I known of it."

Mark Dixon, a police road traffic collision investigator, said Mr Soulsby had walked out between a car and the skip lorry to cross the carriageway.

He said: "The pedestrian was shorter than the lower edge of the windscreen and would not have been visible to the driver as he crossed directly in front of the vehicle."

Mr Soulsby, a retired engineer, lived in Miles Court in John Street. He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War from 1944, before he was demobbed in 1946.

He was an active member of the Black Country Bowls Club and the Royal British Legion.

He lived and worked in Newcastle before moving to the Black Country in 1975 to be closer to his children.

Paying tribute, Ron Gould, welfare officer at the Royal Naval Association in Stourbridge, said Mr Soulsby had helped the branch collect £3,000 for the Poppy Appeal

His wife Lilian died in 1995 aged 69. He had four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Mrs Rowley said: "It may seem odd, a 90-year-old was centre of family, but he was and he is greatly missed.

"The great grand children couldn't understand why he wasn't poorly and then was taken away."

She added: "He did love walking. He went out three to four times a day. The irony was that it killed him."

Mr Balmain said: "This is very sad. This is a death of a man who has had a long, active life.

"He served in the navy, been active supporting of the Royal British Legion and who has been killed in a road traffic collision.

"He crossed in the front of a lorry, the driver had no opportunity to see him."

Residents living in the area have also asked council bosses to look again at the junction itself.

They have voiced concerns over the crossings around the busy Bank Street and Dudley Road junction.

Shoppers and people living nearby have asked Dudley Council's highways team to look at putting additional safety measures like 'green man' signs indicating when it was safe to cross the roads as traffic could come from any direction.

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