Driver killed by falling tree as strong winds bring travel chaos

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A swimmer considers taking a dip as huge waves batter the shoreline at Milford (Photo: Graham Wiffen)

A MOTORIST was killed when a tree fell on her car near Ringwood as strong winds hit the New Forest and Christchurch area at the weekend.

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Paramedics and police responded to the incident which happened at around 8.40am on Saturday on the B3081 Verwood Road between the Alderholt junction and the A31.

The casualty, a Verwood woman in her 60s, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her next of kin has been informed.

Officers closed off the stretch of road for several hours while the incident was dealt with and an investigation was carried out. The victim was driving a grey Ford B-Max.

People are being urged to come forward if they can help piece together the circumstances of the tragedy.

Sgt Lee Savage, of the Dorset traffic unit, said: “We have specially-trained officers supporting the family at this difficult time.

“To assist with my investigation I am appealing to anyone who was travelling in the area at the relevant time and either witnessed the collision or captured any of the incident on dash cam to please contact Dorset Police.”

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The aftermath of the storm at Milford (Photo: Patricia Podesta)

Roads and railways were blocked when trees came down as winds were reported to have gusted at over 80mph and the region was lashed by torrential rain.

Rodlease Lane in Boldre was impassable on Saturday afternoon, while motorists travelling on Jones Lane in Hythe also suffered delays due to large branches across the road.

A fallen tree brought down power lines in Osborne Road, New Milton, around 1.40pm, leaving 150 properties without electricity there and in York Avenue for five-and-a-half hours.

This was among a number of incidents dealt with by engineers from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN).

They also responded to lines brought down by a large oak tree which fell across Everton Road in Hordle at around 10.30am cutting off eight properties for nearly 10-and-a-half hours.

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A large fallen oak tree brought down power lines in Everton Road, Hordle (Photo: katybell.com)

South Western Railway enforced a 50mph speed restriction on its trains until after 5pm amid multiple reports of fallen trees blocking the line between Brockenhurst and Weymouth.

Firefighters from Burley rushed to a health club in Barton Court Avenue, Barton, shortly before 9am to make safe a metal roof panel reported to be blowing off the building.

A fire crew from Lymington responded to reports live power cables brought down in Undershore Road in the town shortly before 9.30am. They also answered a call-out to a fallen tree resting on power cables in Keyhaven Road, Milford.

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Firefighters responded to trees brought down in Lymington (Photo: Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service)

Staff at Lepe Country Park took the decision to close on Saturday due to the strong winds and high tides.

Beach huts were damaged at Milford, including one of those that replaced a row destroyed by 2014’s violent Valentine’s Day storm.

Describing Saturday’s winds as the worst since that time, Steve Cook, building and coastal service manager for New Forest District Council, called the hut damage “minimal”.

“Early indications at Hurst Spit show that this is the worst storm in terms of wind speeds since 2014, with the spit showing a narrowing,” said Mr Cook.

“These assessments are ongoing. We understand that at the Needles the wind speed was recorded at 109.4 mph. Considering this, we are pleased with how the beach huts and coastline have structurally stood up to the storm.”

At Hurn, firefighters were called out in the morning to deal with a large tree which had fallen across Matchams Lane, outside Hurn post office.

Dorset Police officers responded to a number of incidents in Christchurch, including a fallen tree blocking Hoburne Lane.

Anyone with information about the fatality on the B3081 should contact Dorset Police on 101, quoting incident reference number 2:144, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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