Family of cyclist killed by falling fridge 'hope lorry driver rots in prison'
THE family of a woman who was crushed when a nine-tonne fridge fell on her from a lorry say they hope the driver "rots in jail".
Grandmother Susan Russell, 54, was cycling to work along the A63 when the refrigeration unit slid from the back of a truck, landing on her and killing her instantly.
Haulage driver Mark Smith, 47, from Bradford, yesterday pleaded guilty at Hull Crown Court to causing death by dangerous driving.
Susan's sister Patricia Kipling, 64, told the Mail: "He took my sister from me and I will never recover from that. I will never get her back.
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"I hope he rots in jail.
"I live with the thought of her being crushed to death every day and I hope Mark Smith gets a long jail sentence, so he can sit and think about what he has done.
"He took my sister from me, either through laziness or stupidity."
Smith, who runs a Bradford-based haulage firm, took delivery of the load on August 20 last year after it had been brought to his yard from Liverpool the previous day.
He set off with the load on the back of his truck to Saltend – where the unit was to be delivered – but failed to secure it properly with enough strapping.
It is understood a report compiled by police in the aftermath of the accident revealed the huge refrigerator unit should have had dozens of safety straps on it, but it only had two.
Several motorists travelling into the city had spotted the load hanging off one side of the lorry when it was passing Melton, several miles before the crash site.
Smith was travelling at 20mph over the Garrison Road roundabout at about 7.30am when the accident happened.
Susan, who leaves behind two daughters and four grandchildren, was cycling from her home in Abbey Street, east Hull, to a care home for the elderly at nearby Victoria Dock, where she worked.
Smith's legal team argued at yesterday's hearing he was unaware the load was unsafe.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) maintain he knew it was.
The case has now been adjourned until November.
If the two sides cannot agree on the circumstances before then, a Newton Hearing will be held, during which a judge will rule on the matter.
Smith, who has been released on bail in the meantime, will then be sentenced.
Mrs Kipling said: "Every day something reminds me of my loss. The last image I have in my head is of her lying on a slab at the morgue, when I had to identify her.
"Every day I go through the emotions of losing my sister. What has he had to go through? Nothing from what I have seen."
After the lorry shed its load, police shut the route for more than seven hours while an investigation was launched.
The ensuing road closures led to traffic problems across the city, which Mrs Kipling got caught up in.
She said: "We had been to Tesco the morning Sue died and we actually got caught in all the traffic afterwards. It had a knock-on effect across the city.
"We were cursing the delays yet at the time had no idea what had happened. It wasn't until later in the afternoon the police got in touch."
After being told by Judge John Dowse his unconditional bail would be extended pending the conclusion of the next hearing, Smith directly addressed the family.
He said: "I'm sorry, I just want the family to know I am sorry. I am really sorry for the family."
Outside the court, speaking to the Mail with tears in his eyes, he added: "I am sorry. I am heartbroken by what happened. Every day I think about what happened.
"I want the family to know I am sorry."