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Friday, 9 December 2011

Fresh concrete block report leads to partial closure of A12

 The concrete block dropped from a road bridge above the A12 near Chelmsford on Thursday, which injured a woman when it burst through her windscreen and landed in the footwell. Photograph: Essex Police/PA

Part of the A12 in Essex was closed after a woman reported a man holding a concrete block on a bridge on the north carriageway between junctions 14 and 15.

The sighting follows two incidents on the same road last week, when concrete and rock were dropped on to vehicles. A 57-year-old woman was taken to hospital on Thursday with fractures to her face and ribs and internal injuries after what police described as a "bucket-sized" concrete bollard hit the car she was travelling in with husband, who was driving at the time and suffered minor cuts and bruises.

A similar incident happened 40 minutes earlier, near Ingatestone, when another car had its windscreen smashed by a large stone dropped from Fryerning Lane Bridge, but the occupants, a mother and daughter aged 48 and 26, from Brentwood, escaped unharmed.

A police spokesman said on Sunday night: "This was not a malicious report. It was genuine and we would encourage such calls to our control room.

"We are sorry for the disruption we caused to the many motorists, but they and the surrounding communities understand that road safety is of paramount importance as is catching the perpetrators behind these attacks."

The incident in which the 57-year-old woman was injured took place at 10.05pm as the car passed under West Hanningfield Bridge near Galleywood, Essex, on the A12 from Chelmsford to London.

Essex police announced earlier on Sunday that new lines of inquiry had emerged following the public's response to the investigation into Thursday's incidents, which are being treated as attempted murder.

The senior investigating officer, DCI Keith Davies, said: "The public response has so far been fantastic in terms of our house-to-house inquiries as well as people calling us with information.

"However, we still have not yet identified the perpetrators behind these attacks so continue to encourage people to come forward. The investigation is taking shape and we're now piecing together the detail that is being gathered.

"The communities surrounding both bridges have been supportive in our efforts to identify those people who attempted to injure and even kill motorists. Those from further afar, motorists living in other parts of Essex and neighbouring counties are also helping us with their calls."

Forensic examinations of items recovered from the bridges has also been continuing, along with efforts to identify any possible definite links to more than 30 similar incidents on bridges over the A12 in Essex over the past three years.

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