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Questions over death of ‘amazing’ woman in lorry collision at pedestrian crossing

Jennifer Heskins's family said the 'world will be a darker place without her'

17 February, 2017 — By William McLennan

The 55-year-old had an ‘amazing passion for life’

THE family of a woman killed by a construction vehicle have been left asking how the collision could happen at a pedestrian crossing in broad daylight.

Jennifer Heskins was hit by a tipper truck as she crossed Hampstead Road, near Mornington Crescent, with a friend shortly before noon on Friday.

Paramedics battled to save the 55-year-old at the scene before she was rushed to hospital, where she later died.

Her family yesterday (Wednesday) paid tribute to her “amazing passion for life” and said the “world will be a darker place without her”.

Ms Heskins, who had lived in Lyme Street, Camden Town before moving to Broadhurst Gardens in Swiss Cottage around 10 years ago, is the fourth pedestrian to be killed on Camden’s roads in six months.

Her niece, Jessica Davis, said: “She was just an absolutely amazing person. She was always happy. She had an amazing passion for life.

“She looked after everyone. She was always there for people and nothing was too much to ask of her.”

In a statement, Ms Heskins’family said: “She was a beloved daughter, sister and auntie. Our world has been shattered and this world will be a darker place without her. We will miss her and her love for life, kind heart and beautiful smile. We love her always and she will be forever in our hearts.”

Ms Davis said the family wished to praise the work of emergency services, including London’s Air Ambulance, who were called to the scene.

She said the family had questions about the collision at a crossing point that is supposed to be safe for pedestrians, adding: “She was on a pedestrian crossing, that’s where you cross. It sounds really simple, but that is where you cross.”

Lorry collision
Police are investigating the collision in Hampstead Road

The driver stopped and has been interviewed by detectives, police said, but was not arrested.

Accident investigators from the Met’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit are reviewing CCTV in an attempt to piece together what happened. They called for “anyone who witnessed the collision or the events leading up to it” to contact them on 020 8991 9555.

The fatality came as an inquest was held into the death of Sheila Karsberg, 79, who was killed by a cement mixer in Pratt Street in September.

In November, Brent Francis, 47, died in a collision with a bus in Mornington Crescent and the following month Christine Luscombe, 58, died under the wheels of a coach in King’s Cross.

Sian Berry, a Green councillor in Highgate and a member of the London Assembly, said the deaths showed urgent action was needed to ban any heavy goods vehicle that is not fitted with “direct vision cabs” which eliminate blindspots and allow HGV drivers the same visibility as those in cars.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in September that all HGVs contracted by the Greater London Authority would have to be fitted with the “direct vision cabs” by 2020.

But Cllr Berry said this must be introduced sooner and extended to all vehicles working in London.

“Every single horrible incident where someone dies is more emphasis that we have to do something now,” she added.

A spokesman for lorry firm J&R Haulage said they could not comment on Ms Heskins’s death, but said the vehicle had been on its way to a construction site in Soho – ruling out earlier fears that it was the first fatality linked to the government’s HS2 project.

The early stages of the high-speed rail work, which is expected to result in hundreds of additional HGV trips on Hampstead Road each day, has begun with the demolition of National Temperance Hospital.

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