Police failed to find dead driver

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The Independent Online
A police force which "lost" a woman's body after a road crash yesterday admitted that one of its officers had failed to find the scene of another fatal accident.

The policeman, hampered by thick fog, unable to locate the spot where passing security officers from the Ministry of Defence had spotted a car in a field north of Bedford.

It was only an hour later, after further information came in, that the vehicle was found with the body of 17-year-old Richard Horricks nearby. The car had been moved from its original site which suggests that the A-level student had been alive at the time of the first report.

Yesterday, Richard's family was said to be "understanding" over the delay, after it emerged that he would probably have died from serious neck injuries even if found immediately.

However, for Bedfordshire Police it brought back uncomfortable memories of 18 months ago when two officers found an overturned car in a field and left a "police aware" sticker on it. The next day the body of Sally London, 40, was found by a passer-by, who saw an arm hanging out of the wreckage. The two officers were dismissed but reinstated six weeks ago on appeal.

Yesterday, a police spokesman denied any similarity and said that there would be an internal management inquiry into the incident last Friday but no disciplinary hearing.

The original call reported the car abandoned in a field on the Thurleigh Road, near Sharnbrook, north of Bedford. But the responding police officer was not local and in the lfog instead searched the Thurleigh Road at Milton Nerest, two miles away. Unable to find it, and believing it was simply abandoned, he decided it could be looked for in the morning.

Later, when a phone call from the public alerted police again, they contacted the MoD. "When the security officers returned to the scene, they found the car had moved 200 yards in the field,"the spokesman said. "The driver had collapsed nearby and was later pronounced dead."