THE co-owner of a New Forest village pub is continuing to call for safety improvements on the one-way road outside it after a van ploughed into a bridge and ended up wedged over a stream.
Emergency services responded to the collision involving a black Vauxhall Vivaro belonging to electricals supplier Fonix, which demolished one side of the bridge on the B3347 Ringwood Road in Sopley and also damaged part of The Woolpack’s outdoor seating area.
Teela Liberty-Spark, who has co-owned the pub for the past five years, told the A&T she heard a loud bang around 4.30am on Saturday but initially assumed a trailer had gone over a pothole on the bridge.
However, upon hearing voices outside, she switched on the exterior CCTV feed to discover the crashed van, and raised the alarm.
“When I came down I could see the van was embedded across the river,” Teela said.
“At that point I didn’t see an occupant.
“The police arrived at the scene and opened the back of the van to check if anyone was inside, and a load of smoke came out. They notified the fire brigade to check it out because obviously there’s thatch nearby, but it turned out the smoke was caused by the airbag being deployed.
“Half of one side of the bridge was taken out and the one-way sign was damaged – it was all uprooted and smashed across the river. The van had also taken out our fence and damaged part of our outside seating area.”
A 6ft post erected at the corner of the bridge to protect it from damage following previous collisions was even demolished in the incident, Teela said.
The van was unoccupied when officers arrived at the scene, and an investigation has been launched to establish the circumstances that led to the collision taking place.
In her role as local parish councillor, Teela has been involved in campaigning for measures to be taken to enforce the 30mph speed limit to motorists. She also wants safety improvements to be made to the road, including more signage and cutting back trees that are obscuring existing signs.
Some of her fellow council members have visited the scene of the crash, and the matter is set to be discussed again at the next meeting in January.
In 2015 the bridge was hit in four collisions in the space of a month. Teela partly attributed these accidents to drivers diverted by roadworks on the A338 who were unfamiliar with the village route.
Expressing frustration at motorists she had seen taking pictures of the damage from the latest collision on their mobile phones while driving past, Teela called this “an accident waiting to happen”.
She praised Fonix for its quick response to the incident, which included a company representative coming to speak to her on Saturday morning. It then sent a crane which recovered the van the following morning without the road having to be closed.
“They’ve been absolutely great and really helpful,” Teela added.