Yodel takes action after much-loved Derbyshire teacher is killed by reversing delivery van

Richard Turner. Picture submitted.
Richard Turner. Picture submitted.

A delivery company insists it has taken action after a much-loved teacher was killed by one of its vans.

Celebrated bellringer Richard Turner, 64, was struck by the Yodel van as it reversed out of Cherry Tree Square in Tideswell.

Mr Turner’s sister has called for a change in the law requiring commercial vehicles to be fitted with reversing aids.

A Yodel spokesman said: “We were extremely saddened by the tragic news of Mr Turner’s death and we would like to offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends for their loss.

“All drivers are assessed at the point of employment and Yodel has made reversing aids a mandatory requirement for all new fleet and third party vehicles.

“In addition we have recently developed a ‘vulnerable road users’ programme for all of our drivers, which includes additional training on hazard awareness to help prevent such incidents in the future.”

Mr Turner’s sister Penelope Harnett said she believes her brother’s death would not have happened had the van been fitted with reversing aids such as in-vehicle cameras and a warning alarm.

Her comments were echoed by a senior police officer and a coroner – who will now write to the Government about the issue – during Mr Turner’s inquest at Chesterfield coroners’ court on Friday.

There is currently no legislation requiring commercial vehicles to use reversing aids.

Mrs Harnett said: “I believe my brother’s death could have been prevented.

“I would like to see a change in law requiring reversing aids to be fitted to commercial vehicles, particularly delivery vans.

“These vehicles operate in areas where there are often a lot of pedestrians – it is therefore vital that they have all available aids to avoid fatalities.

“I don’t want Richard’s death to be in vain.”

The inquest heard van driver Paul Rider had parked in Cherry Tree Square at 2.10pm on November 13 last year because gas works prevented him from leaving his vehicle on the main road.

After delivering a parcel – his last of the day – he returned to his van.

Mr Rider said: “I checked my mirrors but didn’t see anyone.”

He told the court he reversed at three miles an hour then felt a “thud” so got out of his vehicle and saw Mr Turner in the road.

Mr Turner – who did not appear to have any external injuries – asked to be helped to his feet so Mr Rider and a gas engineer picked him up and placed him on a bench.

Paramedics were called but retired teacher Mr Turner later collapsed and sadly passed away despite desperate resuscitation efforts to keep him alive.

Post-mortem examinations revealed Mr Turner died of spinal and rib fractures and fat embolism – which is caused when the body suffers major trauma.

Mr Rider told the court there was “clearly a blind spot” in his van and acknowledged that in-vehicle cameras would have enabled him to see Mr Turner.

Stuart Cadman, a service deliver manager at Yodel, described Mr Rider as a “very experienced” driver.

“I have no concerns about his driving or his attitude to work,” he added.

The court heard Mr Turner walked with a pronounced curvature of the spine with his head facing the ground and would not have seen the reversing van.

DC Andrew Prince, of the collision investigation unit at Derbyshire police, said Mr Turner may have heard a reversing warning alarm if the van was fitted with one.

Summing up, coroner James Newman said: “There are reversing aids which could have been employed here making both men aware of each other.

“This is a nationwide issue – I’m not here to criticise a single company – so I will write a report on the prevention of future deaths for the Secretary of State for Transport highlighting the implications of vehicles with no rear visibility and the use of reversing aids.”

Mr Newman concluded Mr Turner died as a result of an accident.

In an emotional tribute, Mrs Harnett said her brother was an “inspirational teacher” and a “talented musician” who was a nationally-renowned bellringer.

She added: “Richard was very much loved.

“He had a wonderful sense of humour and was the life and soul of the party.

“His death has caused tremendous sadness.

“Richard will always be missed.”