An HGV driver who sent a six-ton JCB tumbling into oncoming traffic after hitting the A325 Wrecclesham Road railway bridge last September has been sentenced at Guildford Magistrates’ Court.
Craig Thomson, 47, from Salisbury, was found guilty of driving without due care and attention on January 6 and ordered to pay £90 court costs, a £660 fine and a victim surcharge of £264.
His driving licence was also endorsed with seven penalty points.
The cabin of a JCB dumper, one of three heavy plant vehicles being carried by an HGV driven by Thomson, struck the protective boom on the northern side of the notorious bridge just after 9am on Tuesday, September 6 last year.
The JCB was knocked off the HGV’s trailer by the impact, and fell into oncoming traffic on the A325.
David Cole, a 72-year-old grandfather, was driving under the bridge in the opposite direction at the same moment and was showered in glass and hydraulic fluid. But miraculously, no-one was hurt.
Surrey Police has now vowed to take action against drivers and haulage companies at fault for striking the A325 Wrecclesham Road railway bridge.
Speaking after Thomson was hauled before magistrates on January 6, Sergeant Graham Kerslake of Surrey Police said: “We are well aware of the chaos and disruption that is caused when there is a bridge strike at this location.
“As well as causing significant delays on the surrounding roads, it can also have a significant impact on the rail service.
“Whenever we are called to deal with these incidents, we will always carry out a full investigation and will take action against the driver and the company involved as and when it is appropriate to do so.
“We hope this latest court result will show we do take driving without due care and attention extremely seriously.
“We are continuing to work with partners, including Surrey County Council and Network Rail, to reach a solution to the particular issue at this bridge.”
No-one was hurt after a JCB dumper on a trailer towed by Thomson hit the bridge’s protective boom on September 6 last year, and came tumbling into the road.
But David Cole, 72, from Wrecclesham, had a very close escape after swerving his car into the kerb and coming to a halt just as the bright yellow dumper spun off the HGV’s trailer just a few metres behind him.
Mr Cole told the Herald last September that had he passed under the bridge a second later, there is a good chance he would have been trapped under the JCB.
It came just two months after another HGV hit the bridge and overturned, crushing a car and trapping its female driver inside.
The woman was taken to hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.
Since the collision, Surrey County Council says it has undertaken a feasibility study to identify medium- and long-term options to remove or reduce the risk of bridge strikes by HGVs, cut back foliage on the approach to the bridge to improve sight lines, and held discussions with Network Rail on painting the bridge to make it more conspicuous.