The death of a “doting grandad” who died a year ago this week after a block of concrete smashed through his windscreen when it fell off the back of a lorry changed one family forever.
The grieving relatives of 60-year-old Steven Oscroft have described the last year as a “living hell” as they reflect in a heartfelt video how this tragedy has impacted them all.
Now the family is hoping some good will come out of his death to ensure better checks are made by drivers carrying insecure loads, so no other family ever has to suffer similar heartache.
This week Nottinghamshire Police joined forces with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), who regularly carry out checks on heavy loads, to combine efforts and crackdown on unsafe vehicles during a day-long operation.
Members of Mr Oscroft’s family attended to show their support for the event yesterday which was held just days after the one year anniversary of Mr Oscroft’s death.
On July 7 last year Mr Oscroft, from Shirebrook, was taking his wife and two grandchildren out strawberry picking in Ollerton, when a concrete block fell off a lorry travelling in the opposite direction, smashing into the windscreen on the driver’s side of the car.
He died instantly at the scene in Netherfield Lane, Perlethorpe cum Budby, while the other members of the family were physically unharmed.
Despite being left devastated, Mr Oscroft’s family, who they describe as a ‘doting grandad’ and the ‘pillar of their family’, are desperate to raise awareness of the necessity to improve the safety of heavy loads and impose stricter regulations.
Their belief that Mr Oscroft’s demise could have been avoided was bolstered when the inquest into this death earlier this year determined it was caused by a piece of concrete falling from an uncovered part of a lorry.
A video released by the force today includes interviews with the family followed by their reaction to the work happening at the site yesterday, which included police pulling vehicles off the M1 and bringing them into the centre. They were then checked for issues around weight, road worthiness, load security and driving hours. The event took place at a site in Main Road, Watnall where the DVSA carry out in-depth tests on HGVs.
It resulted in nine vehicles being stopped by police. Three had poorly secured loads, three were overloaded, one had no tax and two had defective tyres. One driver was also reported for driving hour offences.
Mr Oscroft’s widow Denise and two children, Becky Marsh and Kelly Kirby had attended. Mrs Oscroft said: “It’s been the year from hell. We’re still trying to process Steven’s death and I think because of the shock of how it happened and how suddenly it happened, we will never get over it.
“Every minute of every day we think about him and there are times that we momentarily forget what happened and think he’s around still and that’s when it hits you with full force. He was the pillar of our family and we all miss him so much.
“But Steven would have told us to get on with things and to focus on the grandchildren so we have concentrated on them and efforts to make vital changes to help prevent another family having to suffer the way we have. That’s what he would have wanted – for his death to stand for something positive.”
His daughter Mrs Marsh added: “It was difficult in the beginning, we would see many things on the roads that would make us angry and emotional – big heavy loads with just a flimsy netting over the top which couldn’t possibly hold anything. It would make us think about dad and how powerless he was, how powerless anyone would be in that situation.”
His other daughter Mrs Kirby said: “It’s been about taking one day at a time because if you do let yourself think of a forever without Dad, that’s when it hits you and it gets hard.
“Today’s been a real eye-opener, just to see what the checks involve and to see how seriously the issue is taken by the police and DVSA. Overall we feel positive that changes are happening and it’s as a result of our dad – his memory lives on.”
Sergeant Craig Luckett, who led the operation, said: “We’ve all been touched by Mr Oscroft’s case and his remarkable family who haven’t stopped thinking about others despite the pain and suffering they have gone through.
“They have been so strong and driven and we fully support them in their plight to raise awareness of the issues surrounding lorry loads.
“We regularly carry out checks and will prosecute drivers when they are found to be breaking the law. We know that from the operation’s results and from speaking to drivers, the Oscrofts’ message is getting through and we hope they can feel proud of what they’ve achieved so far during such a difficult time.”
A DVSA spokesperson said: “We wish to extend our sympathies to his family and friends following the tragic death of Steven Oscroft.
“We are committed to making sure lessons are learnt and have shared with the coroner what we do to help drivers and crack down on dangerous vehicles.
“This includes continuing to carry out regular intelligence-based road checks targeting tippers and working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to update our plain English guidance by September 2021.
“We would also encourage anyone who sees a lorry with a dangerous load to inform us and help us keep the roads safe.”