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Essex Police officers acted appropriately when alerted to a motorist who was driving on the wrong carriageway of the A13 prior to a double fatal car crash in Dagenham, an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation has concluded.
Rosemarie Carter, 71, and 43-year-old Rusit Ataoglu both died at the scene.
A seven-month investigation concluded there was no evidence the actions of Essex Police directly or indirectly contributed to their deaths and no conduct issues were identified. All officers were treated as witnesses throughout.
An inquest jury at Barking Town Hall on Friday, May 21, returned a finding of death by road traffic collision for Mrs Carter and Mr Ataoglu.
IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley said: “Our thoughts remain with all those affected by this tragic incident. We provided our investigation report to Essex Police and HM Coroner when our investigation concluded in July 2019 and we assisted the inquest by providing the evidence we gathered.
“It is important we establish all of the circumstances of fatal road traffic incidents involving the police when they happen.
“The available evidence was analysed in great detail in drawing our conclusion that there was no evidence to indicate that the police contributed to the tragic deaths of Rosemarie Carter and Rusit Ataoglu.”
On December 31, 2018, at approximately 1.36am, a call was made to Essex Police that a Ford car was driving on the A13, near the A128 junction. It was heading in the wrong direction, towards London.
Three police crews were deployed. The first to catch up switched on its lights while driving in the parallel lane on the other side of the central reservation.
They could not get a response from the driver so dropped back and monitored progress.
A second police unit tried to put in a rolling block at the junction with the M25 but the car had already passed by.
This unit sped towards the car and the other police vehicle to both catch up and get ahead of the car, which only ever reached a top speed of approximately 40mph as it drove along the wrong carriageway.
They caught up with the other police vehicle and went ahead with the intention of putting in a roadblock to prevent other traffic entering the road. However, before the road ahead could be successfully cordoned off the driver collided head-on with another car.
The Essex police units had remained on the correct carriageway throughout but stopped and officers then crossed the central barrier to give first aid. A Joint Emergency Services response ensued with Metropolitan Police (MPS) traffic officers managing the scene as the car had entered the MPS geographical jurisdiction from Essex into London.
The police contact lasted from deployment approximately six to seven minutes in total.
The National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter monitored from the sky and assisted in co-ordinating the police response.
During the investigation, which concluded in July 2019, the IOPC secured the NPAS footage which captured the collision, witness statements and footage from dash cameras from other vehicles which confirmed the route of the car and the point of collision.
Police vehicle downloads were mapped and confirmed the timings, route and speeds of the Essex Police response.