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Call for action after fatal accident

By Staff Reporter

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A renewed call has been made for action to be taken over a notorious stretch of the A9 in East Sutherland following a fatal accident a fortnight ago.

Megan Whitehead (20), Helmsdale, died after her car was in collision with two other vehicles a mile south of The Mound junction.

Local resident Mary Gall (83), who lives at Balvraid at the top of Cambusavie Brae, close to the accident spot, has campaigned for years for greater safety measures to be put in place.

She said the stretch of the A9 running from Evelix to the Mound was “extremely dangerous” and becoming more so because of increasing volumes of traffic.

The stretch contains the Cambusavie bends, a series of sharp, narrow turns.

Mrs Gall said: “This is a very dangerous section of the A9. There are 27 exits including two busy crossroads, several T-junctions, farm road exists and private homes.”

She has given up hope of the bends ever being bypassed but is now renewing her call for a 50mph speed limit on that particular stretch.

Her hopes were raised two years ago when a poster was attached to a Give Way sign where she lived with details of a proposed 50mph limit between Evelix Garage and the Mound.

But nothing ever happened and Mrs Gall’s approaches to Highland Council, Bear Scotland and Transport Scotland have not brone fruit.

Only two month ago she raised the issue with MP Jamie Stone after a driver overtook the car she was travelling in on double white lines between the Trentham Hotel and the Skelbo crossroads.

She said: “I was really upset to hear about the young girl’s death. It is so sad, a young life snuffed out”.

The Cambusavie bends have been the scene of a number of serious accidents in recent years.

In 2005 Rogart woman Alison Murray died after the Renault van she was driving left the road.

And in 2006 a cattle truck overturned, leading to the death of 29 of the 49 cows on board.

In 2008 a lorry driver was airlifted to hospital after his vehicle overturned and shed its load, closing the road for 12 hours.

In 2015 a motorcyclist was airlifted to hospital and treated for serious injuries.

In 2017 two occupants of a Vectra had to be cut free after their vehicle collided with a Network Rail van.

Miss Whitehead’s death plunged her home community into mourning. Her funeral was held Wednesday.

MP Jamie Stone said: "“My heart goes out to the family involved in this tragedy.

“For many years I have been pushing the Scottish Government to make significant investment in the A9 north of Inverness.

“Although great quantities of cash are being spent south of the city, today the Far North still remains the poor relation.

“Use of the A9 is ever increasing - not least due to the runaway success of NC500.

“The simple fact is that more often than not the safety of road users is related to the design and quality of our roads - and that road user safety is paramount.

“We must now have a proper survey of the level of use of the Far North section of the A9 - and other roads used by NC500 visitors - and when this is completed local people will be looking for real Scottish Government cash to maintain and improve all these roads.

“We must also consider putting in place speed restrictions for stretches of the road which are deemed unsafe or on which we are unfortunately seeing repeated accidents and fatalities.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “As standard policy with all fatal accidents, Transport Scotland will meet at the accident location with Police Scotland and our operating company to obtain more information on the incident and to identify if there is a need for a further road safety investigation. Until this meeting has taken place, and Police Scotland’s investigations have been completed, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

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