TWO young parents-to-be have been killed in a horror crash at a “dangerous” junction where the Yield sign “was turned the wrong way”.
Josh Alexander, 21, and Jessica Poole, 18, who were expecting a baby boy together, died when a lorry crashed into their car in Woodchurch, Kent, in June last year.
Josh Alexander and Jessica Poole killed in horrific accident Credit: Social Media
Jessica was expecting a child before the tragedyCredit: Facebook
The couple were on their way to work delivering take-out to earn extra cash ahead of the arrival of their newborn, who they were “excited” to meet.
It comes just weeks after Josh shared a picture of the baby’s T-shirt, a positive pregnancy test and a snapshot of their son in the womb.
Along with a March 19 Facebook post, the dad-to-be said: “November 2023. See you then lil.”
They were going to Happy Valley Chinese where they were working extra shifts when the terrible accident happened.
Inquests on Friday heard officers believed “heavily worn” road markings and a rotated Give Way sign near the intersection may have contributed to the crash.
Giving evidence, PC Simon Masterson, forensic collision investigator for Kent Police, said Josh failed to recognize he was approaching the junction as he drove westbound on Plurenden Road.
Mr Masterson said: “The Give Way sign on Plurenden Road, which was 11 meters from the junction, was rotated 61 degrees.
“The road markings were badly worn in several places. The approach triangle was also worn but visible.
“On Plurenden Road there were no signs warning of the intersection ahead. This could have caused confusion for the approaching driver.
“Worn lines and a rotated sign may have been a contributing factor.”
The inquest heard that dashcam footage from a lorry traveling along Bethersden Road showed the Corso approaching the junction.
PC Masterson described Josh as a “calm” and “controlled vehicle”.
The footage showed that there was “no deceleration” of the Corsa, which was approaching the intersection at a “constant speed”.
But the video also seems to show Josh being briefly distracted by his phone.
PC Masterson said: “I’m convinced his hand was out to touch the phone.”
The inquest at Oakwood House in Maidstone heard that Josh had been using satnav apps on his phone for directions while driving.
He is believed to have been checking one of these apps just before he unknowingly crossed the intersection and into the path of an oncoming DAF HGV.
Based on the footage, Josh was found to be driving between 50 and 56 mph, within the 60 mph limit for Plurenden Road.
PC Masterson added: “Josh did not recognize that he was approaching the junction.
“He is communicating on a mobile phone just before entering Bethersden Road.
“His actions suggest he was unaware of the intersection ahead.”
Although Josh is believed to have been using a sat-nav app on his phone, as he only moved to the area in April, it is not clear what specific app he was on at the time of the accident.
During the investigation, PC Masterson approached the intersection himself using Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze, the most common satellite navigation applications.
All three failed to warn that there was an intersection ahead of them.
With that in mind, and those worn marks and the twisted sign, it was said that maybe Josh didn’t know he had to give way.
Speaking to the HGV driver, PC Masterson said “there was nothing he could have physically done to avoid the collision”.
He added: “Josh didn’t recognize that he was approaching the intersection.
“It is very likely that he was distracted by his mobile phone which he was seen interacting with.”
No drugs or alcohol were found in Josh or Jessica’s body.
Josh shared a picture of the baby’s t-shirt, a positive pregnancy test and a snapshot of their son in the womb Credit: Facebook
Josh is pictured with his mom BeckyCredit: Social Media
PC Masterson also mentioned that Josh’s car’s front airbags had not deployed, but stressed that it would not have made any difference.
In conclusion, Coroner Katrina Hepburn said: “There was nothing to suggest that they were traveling at excessive speed.
“While we are speculating whether he saw the sign or not, whether the cell phone was in use, I am not making any findings in this regard.
“The accident caused significant and catastrophic injuries and fatalities as a result of road traffic collisions.”
The coroner added that he would now write to Kent County Council’s (KCC) Highways Department regarding the improvements that had been made to the junction. That will determine whether she writes a report on preventing future deaths.
A KCC spokesman said: “We are aware of the investigation and are awaiting a letter from the coroner.
“Whenever there is a serious or fatal accident on one of our roads, we work with Kent Police, specialist engineers and coroners to investigate any causal factors that have been identified.
“When we find out, we do everything we deem necessary to prevent a similar incident from happening again.
“One death on our roads is one too many and we will continue to make sure our roads are safe.”
Speaking to KentOnline after the inquest, Josh’s father, Ben Sissens, said he believed the approach to the junction was “sneaky”.
“The national speed limit is 60 mph, but if you’re approaching an intersection at that speed without slowing down or giving notice, that’s dangerous,” he said.
“Many other rural roads have signs warning you to slow down or lanes warning of a dangerous intersection.”
Mr Sissens says he wants to put pressure on KCC to improve the safety of Plurenden Road, which he says should not be 60mph with no junction warning ahead.
“If he was going 40 mph, he might have seen the road markings a little easier,” he said.
“What happened is terrible. It has torn families apart and I want to make sure other babies can come home to their families.
The huge void left in my life is indescribable.”
Aimee Poole, Jessica’s mother
“I spoke to the other driver and I told him that we don’t blame him.
“I don’t blame him for anything, it was a disastrous series of events and I don’t want this to change his life. I don’t want him to bear the blame.”
He previously said his son Josh was his “proudest achievement” and added “a void that I feel can never be filled”.
He then added: “You were my first, my everything, my mini me, my heart, my soul and my proudest achievement.
“Rest now, my dear, with your beautiful Jess and your baby boy.”
The inquest heard Jessica was “so excited to meet her boy”.
Her mother, Aimee Poole, said: “Jessica was a beautiful girl.
“She was my best friend and I would choose her company over anyone.
“The great void left in my life is indescribable.
“We must have told each other we love each other at least 20 times a day.”
Josh’s friend Ben Wheeler wrote online: “I have never met anyone as amazing, honest, good and hardworking as you.
“You deserve the world and you deserve to be with Jess and your little boy.
“I hope all three of you are in a better place together. We will miss you forever.”
Another friend, Michael Harmer, said: “You were a blessing to my life and everyone else’s – your light shone brightly and you never failed to bring out the best in everyone.”
Jessica, pictured, was a horse lover Credit: Social Media
Josh’s dad paid tribute to the young man Credit: Social Media