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Firm at centre of Catriona Patel case says it's "very sorry" after second fatal accident this year

Tuesday's death of Japanese businessman comes six month's after cyclist killed at the Oval...

The haulage firm that owns the tipper lorry being driven by Dennis Putz that killed London cyclist Catriona Patel in June has said it is “very sorry” after it emerged that another of its trucks was involved in an accident earlier this week in which a Japanese businessman died.

Putz was sentenced last month at Inner London Crown Court to seven years’ imprisonment and banned from driving for life after being convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.

It was revealed that he was over the alcohol limit after drinking a minimum of seven pints of Guinness the previous evening, and he was also talking on his mobile phone at the time the fatal crash took place.

On Tuesday, a 51-year-old Japanese businessman who had just landed at London Heathrow Airport died when a lorry belonging to Thames Materials crashed through the central reservation of the A4 at Chiswick and hit the taxi he was travelling in, reports the Evening Standard. The 44-year-old driver has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

A spokesman for Thames Materials, which is based in Hanwell, West London, told the newspaper: “We are very sorry about both cases. We are working very closely with police to try to understand what happened. It has been very hard for us as a company.”
The Standard added that the spokesman refused to confirm whether or not the driver in the latest incident had been suspended, or whether the firm was taking steps to improve its vehicles’ safety.

That last point is pertinent to the Catriona Patel case because the court learnt that Putz had previously been twice jailed for driving offences, the first for reckless driving, the second for 16 counts of driving a lorry while disqualified. That has led cycle campaigners to ask how he could have ended up behind the steering wheel of a lorry again.

London Cycling Campaign is currently running a No More Lethal Lorries campaign that is focused on reducing the heavy casualty toll inflicted on the capital's cyclists by HGVs.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Mark Appleton | 13 years ago

We have contacted Thames Materials to put some of the above points - and a few more - to them. They insisted that their vehicles' number plates and fleet numbers are visible at all times but would not answer specific questions unless sent by email, which we have done.

They asked if the cyclist who posted above had contacted them to report the incident. We suggest he does so. We have provided Thames Materials with a link to this item so they can also respond directly to our posters.

We will update you as to their responses to your and our questions, as soon as we have them.

OldRidgeback | 13 years ago

Toby - if you had the reg number of the truck you could pass it to police and the firm was operating a defective vehicle and that it was being driven without due care and attention.
Like I said in a previous thread abut Patel's death, this firm seems to have a poor safety record. All road users are at risk and not just cyclists. Given that the death of the Japanese businessman is the second fatality the firm has been closely connected with I expect the company is now going to be hit very hard indeed. It's a shame two people have had to pay the ultimate price for this to take effect.

cat1commuter | 13 years ago

It really is unbelievable that, in general, drivers who have been repeatedly convicted of serious offences are still allowed to drive. Do they ever get life bans? Why is driving considered as if it is some kind of human right?

Toby Lovern | 13 years ago

The company might be "very sorry" but actions speak louder than words.

This evening, along with another cycle commuter, I was "buzzed" by one of Thames Materials' Tipper lorries on Boston Manor Road in West London. The driver presumably thought it was ok to only give cyclists a few inches of passing space despite there being ample room to pull out safely whilst overtaking us.

I then watched as the same lorry was driven straight across a mini roundabout that another cyclist was already crossing. The tipper lorry didn't have any working lights on its rear number plate and the plate itself was smeared with muck as was the tipper lorry fleet number - rendering both illegible.

As it passed me I noticed that the lorry didn't have the top mirror on the offside cab mirror cluster to give visibility of the blind spot and also didn't have any "how's my driving" type signage on the rear.

If the owners of Thames Materials are genuinely interested in road safety they could make a good start by:

1. Educating their drivers.
2. Fitting blind spot mirrors and joining a "How's my driving" reporting scheme.
3. Taking steps to check that their fleet of vehicles comply with the law by having working lights and clean number plates and punishing drivers who fail to report defects on company vehicles.

mrchrispy | 13 years ago

how long would a scaffolding last if their scaffolding kept falling into the street killing people.
would we accept 1 or 2 deaths a year...I bloody doubt it.

bikeandy61 | 13 years ago

Wonder if any of their lorries feature the "How is my driving, ring blah blah blah"? If so had anyone ever complained about any of their drivers abilities and if so did the company do anything beyond political window dressing.

Jon Burrage | 13 years ago

revoke their license to operate - that might make some businesses take notice.

don_don | 13 years ago

I'm sure they are very sorry.

Not much help to the families of Ms Patel and this unfortunate Japanese gentleman though.

Isn't it about time complanies like this are held to account for the behaviour of their drivers, through Health and Safety legislation?

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