A University student lost his life after being hit by taxi in Leamington, Warwickshire at approximately 3:45am on December 7th 2012.
Archie Wellbelove, 18, was walking back towards his halls of residence after he had been refused entry into a club when the accident occured. Mr Wellbelove was found to be three and half times over the drink-drive limit at the time.
Just five days prior to the accident, Warwickshire Council had put into place its decision to switch off 80% of its street lights in the early morning hours in an attempt to save half a million pounds.
The taxi driver confirmed that he had driven in the area for the last 13 years and he was used to the stretch of road being lit. When the accident happened he claims that it was the first time that he noticed that the street lights were switched off. He claims that he was not speeding, did not see the teenager at all and only knew what he had hit when he heard a loud bang.
The coroner gave a narrative verdict, where the cause of the circumstances of the death were recorded without attributing a single cause. It was ruled by the coroner that Warwickshire County Council’s lack of street lights contributed to the teenager’s death, in addition to his dark clothing, his position on the road and direction of travel. The teenager was seen on CCTV footage to be walking in the road with his back to the traffic.
The emergency services had to ask the Council to switch on the street lights in order to find the teenager’s body, which took over 45 minutes.
The coroner’s verdict forced the Council to reconsider their policy on street lighting in the area. The Head of Transport and Highways at the Warwickshire County Council, Mr Graham Fitton, confirmed that lights on the stretch of the road on Friday and Saturday nights will now be left on later, but he insisted that the lights policy and the speed limit for the stretch of road were appropriate. He claimed in general that if he has to save half a million pounds then whatever he does will always have an impact on safety in some way.