THREE donkeys have been killed in a collision with a van at a notorious accident blackspot in the New Forest.
The accident took place on the B3078 Roger Penny Way between Cadham and Godshill just before 7am on Saturday morning.
The van involved, operated by the artisan catering company La Chasse Limited, hit the small herd of donkeys, with the three animals dying soon afterwards. Witnesses said the vehicle was also badly damaged and had to be recovered from the scene.
A spokesperson for Hampshire police said: “We were called just after 7am on Saturday 12th December to reports of a collision on Roger Penny Way after a vehicle collided with three donkeys.
“Sadly, the donkeys were confirmed deceased on officer arrival. No persons were injured in the collision. It is not known at this time where the donkeys came from, or whether they were wild.”
Roger Penny Way is well known as a New Forest accident blackspot.
Just two days before the collision The New Forest Roads Awareness speed watch team and Hampshire police recorded 46 cars travelling above the speed limit in one hour. The highest speed recorded was 68 mph and one driver was recorded speeding twice.
A spokesperson for the New Forest Roads Awareness Partnership said: “If you cannot see us in a hi-vis, or a flashing sign, you are not going to see livestock, so slow down!”
Last year a high-profile campaign was launched by a number of New Forest organisations including Forestry England, the national park authority and the verderers, urging motorists to add three minutes to their journey times.
It has been calculated that this is the extra time it would take to drive some of the most dangerous routes in the Forest at 30mph rather than 40mph.
Verderers clerk Sue Westwood said: “Drivers should be aware that they are very likely to encounter animals on the Forest’s roads, day and night. Animals don’t have road sense so please help avoid accidents by driving slowly and carefully.
“While many of the New Forest roads have a 40mph speed limit – it is not safe or appropriate to travel at that speed. The tragic death of these donkeys is a clear example of exactly why drivers must slow down and take extra care especially in the early morning and late afternoon when the roads are very dark.
“A collision will inevitably result in significant delay for the driver involved and may result in a badly damaged vehicle as well as causing unnecessary suffering to the unfortunate animal.”
Catherine Cotton, owner of La Chasse, described the accident as “deeply distressing for the business” adding: “We are very, very saddened by the death of these three donkeys but as the police investigation is ongoing it is difficult for me to comment further on the circumstances of the accident.
“It is deeply distressing for all of us and of course for the driver that was involved as well.”
Anyone with information about the collision should contact Hampshire police by phoning 101 and quoting the reference 44200478908.