Family of grandmother killed on smart motorway in Yorkshire ready for ‘answers we deserve’

Nargis Begum died in a collision on a section of the M1 near Sheffield that did not have a hard shoulder, in September 2018, after the Nissan Qashqai in which she was a passenger broke

The 62-year-old woman and her 69-year-old husband Mohammed Bashir, who were driving, waited outside the car for help for around 17 minutes before another vehicle collided with her.

The Sheffield grandmother was hit by her car and killed and an inquest into the circumstances surrounding her death, held at Doncaster Coroner’s Court, is due to start on Tuesday September 6.

Nargis Begum died in a collision on a section of the M1 near Sheffield which did not have a hard shoulder, in September 2018

Saima Aktar, 40, had gone to the scene to help her parents, after they broke down near Woodall Services on September 9, but arrived after the collision.

“The pain and suffering that our family is going through is as raw now as it was when mom passed away,” she said.

“She was the kindest, sweetest, most loving person you could ever wish to meet. Mom’s life revolved around family and all she wanted for us was health and happiness. something we have struggled to feel since his death.

“Our father is a shadow of himself. He avoided injury but his loving and caring wife of 45 years died in front of him, it took its toll on him.

“Although four years have passed since her death, time has stood still for our family. Trying to mourn mum has been made all the more difficult due to concerns we have about smart highways and events surrounding Mom’s death.

“We know the investigation and hearing the evidence is going to be traumatic, but it’s something we need to get some of the answers we deserve.”

After a pre-inquest review hearing last year, Coroner Nicola Mundy referred National Highways, then known as Highways England, to the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether charges of manslaughter of company were appropriate.

It came after Sheffield Coroner David Urpeth ruled that Jason Mercer, 44, and Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, died in a lorry crash after stopping on another stretch of the motorway in June 2019, had been unlawfully killed and said “a lack of the hard shoulder contributed to this tragedy”.

South Yorkshire Police then carried out a scoping exercise, but announced in February that National Highways ‘cannot be held liable’ as it ‘had no relevant duty of care to road users’ under the terms of the Manslaughter and Workplace Homicide Act 2007.

Lawyers for Irwin Mitchell, who represent Ms Begum’s family, have brought a civil action against National Highways on their behalf.

They are also working with Claire Mercer, Jason Mercer’s widow, and seeking to file a judicial review against the government-owned company, calling for the reinstatement of hard shouldering on all smart highways.

In January, the Department of Transportation announced it would halt rollout of smart highways until five years of data had been collected for safety assessments.

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