Ten cars crash on A38 leaving one man dead and closing road for 10 hours
A POLICE probe has been launched after a string of smashes on a short stretch of the A38 – which left one man dead.
Ten vehicles were involved in a series of collisions within minutes on the Parkway during the morning rush hour in freezing conditions.
A 42-year-old Ford Fiesta driver was taken to Derriford Hospital after the worst of the crashes but later died.
The man died after his car was involved in a collision with a Toyota Avensis at 5.48am, police said.
A force spokesman said: "At the time of the collision the road surface was icy, following a recent hail storm.
"As a result of this collision the driver of the Ford Fiesta, a local male aged 42 years, has died from his injuries. His next of kin have been informed."
Questions are now being raised over the spate of crashes.
Dented vehicles were left scattered along a two-mile stretch of the road between the Manadon Roundabout and the Forder Valley Interchange yesterday.
The Herald can reveal that the road was gritted at 4am.
But icy conditions and reports of a hail storm at around 5.30am may have caused difficulties for drivers.
Police ordered a road closure ten minutes after the fatal crash – the first to hit the stretch of road.
A police spokesman said a number of vehicles had spun off the main carriageway and onto the grass verges.
Several other people suffered minor injuries as a result of the smashes.
Part of the road remained closed for more than 10 hours while vehicles were cleared from the shocking scene on the Exeter-bound A38. Forensic investigators also worked at the scene.
Emergency services were pushed to the limit as paramedics attended a 10 collisions across the city between 5am and 9am.
A South Western Ambulance Service Spokesman described the morning as "mayhem".
As well as the mayhem on the A38 – which included a separate crash at Deep Lane in Plympton – there were incidents on Longbridge Road, Crownhill Road and at West Park.
An investigation will now consider whether city roads were sufficiently gritted.
A probe into the tragic events on the A38 will look at whether the hail storm may have been partly to blame.
Chief Inspector Ian Drummond, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "We closed the road almost immediately. It all happened within a very small space of time."
He told The Herald special police collision teams had been examining the scene.
"I can't speculate about what caused the collisions because it will all form part of the investigation," Chief Insp Drummond added.
The Met Office said data showed storms at around the time of the incident could have affected visibility for the drivers involved.
A spokesman said: "There was thunder, lightning and a hail storm on Monday night which may have left hail deposits on the road.
"The roads may have been icy and visibility reduced by the hail storm. There were cold temperatures again last night and more sleet and snow, so there will be a continued ice risk.
"People should take extra care when out on the roads and be careful when going from A to B."
The Highways Agency said the stretch of the A38 was gritted at 4am on Tuesday morning – just under two hours before the collisions occurred.
"At 4am the air temperature was 2C," a spokesman said.
"But we still salted the roads as a precaution.
"This was routine practice as we were working across the network in Devon, so it was part of our routine gritting operation.
"Our winter fleet works around the clock and roads across the South West will continue to be treated whenever there is a risk of ice or snow.
"We want to warn drivers across the South West to take extra care on the roads as further snow and rain, possibly turning to ice, is forecast.
"During severe winter weather drivers should check road conditions and the weather forecast before setting out, and if conditions are poor and journeys are not essential they should think about delaying until conditions improve."
There were further collisions in other areas of the city, with ambulance crews having to deal with four ongoing crashes at the same time at around 6.15am.
Before 9am, they had already been called to 10 collisions.
One car, a BMW, was seen to be wedged on a crash barrier near the Forder Valley junction.
The crash at the notorious Deep Lane junction, involving two vehicles, happened just after 9am.
Both drivers were reported to have suffered minor injuries and one Plymouth-bound lane was closed, causing more delays.
Accidents continued throughout the morning, with another happening on the A38 at around 11.40am.
Paramedics also had to be called when a vehicle hit a crash barrier and spun into the road between Ivybridge and Wrangaton.
Police said there was also added disruption at Novorossiysk Road when an HGV broke down.
Plymouth City Council confirmed it put a plan in place on Monday to deal with the forecasted bad weather.
"Between 4pm and 10pm there were three crews out treating all known cold spots, which include bridges and places near waterways," a spokesperson said.
"There was residual salt on the network so our full gritting run started at around 2am, treating both primary and secondary routes and finishing at around 5am. All gritters remained active, treating localised colds spots, until 7.30am. Ploughs were deployed as required. Two gritters were active until about midday, treating the main arteries of the city.
"We have not received any reports of road traffic collisions on roads that we are responsible for."
The Plymouth Serious Collision Investigation Unit are now investigating the fatal crash.
Witnesses are asked to call 101 quoting log number DCP – 20130122-0100.
A38 GRIDLOCK COST THE CITY £1MILLION
THE ripple effects of mass carnage on the A38 caused havoc for commuters – and could have cost the economy upwards of £1million.
Some motorists arrived for work more than three hours late as they bemoaned the city as "gridlocked".
Standstills were reported in every corner of Plymouth – from Plympton, to St Budeaux, to Roborough.
One leading business figure described it as "the worst day to travel into the city I've ever experienced".
Plymouth Chamber of Commerce chief executive David Parlby continued: "My normal journey should take around 30 to 40 minutes but I was stuck for about an hour and a half.
"I was certainly not the only one affected, around 30,000 people have probably been affected in the same way as me.
"An hour and a half's delay for that many people probably cost the city around £1.1million just in terms of the wasted time of people being unproductive.
"I had to cancel meetings, was late for another meeting.
"The significant calls to police, fire and ambulance services causes a lot of disruption.
"On the roads I was travelling on I saw there had been quite a bit of gritting.
"Obviously its hard to say what caused the delays, but clearly a combination of bad weather and road accidents severely affected the city."
Sue Mills, community librarian at Crownhill Library, usually has a commute of 20 minutes.
But yesterday her travel to work took her an hour and a quarter.
She said: "It took me 45 minutes just from Manadon roundabout to the library, which usually takes around five minutes.
"A colleague abandoned her car and decided to walk in because she was waiting for so long – but got soaked by a lorry so came in dripping wet.
"Another colleague travelled from her home in Plymstock to work in Southway Library, which took her over two hours.
"We were late but opened eventually.
"With all the traffic being diverted from the A38 to the Manadon Roundabout it was just gridlock."
Meanwhile, some schools in Cornwall were closed and power cuts were reported as the morning misery hit the region.