Fatal accident on West End Lane

[original post Nov 11th 10am]
[updated Nov 11th 11.30am]
[updated Nov 11th 4pm] 
[updated Nov 12th 4pm]
[updated Nov 13th 8.30am] 
[updated Nov 13th 1.15pm]
[new article: http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/2012/11/west-end-lane-crash-details-emerging.html] 
[new article: http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/2012/11/west-end-lane-crash-can-we-help.html

Just after 8.30pm on Saturday, the 83-year-old driver of an old Mercedes on West End Lane lost control, mounted the curb, hit two female pedestrians, some traffic lights and a wall. One of the women died. Desreen Brooks, 33, was a mother from south London. The other woman is 23 year-old Amy Werner, an American postgraduate student at University of Westminster, originally from Vermont in New England. She is in a serious condition and her parents Richard and Regina Werner have flown over to be with her. The driver was hospitalised though his injuries are not believed to be serious. Eye-witnesses and local residents reported distressing scenes of medical teams attempting resuscitation, and a lot of damage.

It is still too early to know exactly how this happened. The accident occurred between the junctions with Dynham Road and Cleve Road in West Hampstead. The car was apparently heading south when it lost control. It is unclear how fast it was travelling – apparently knocking over traffic lights is not much of an indication as they are not deeply embedded. However, the car continued into the wall, knocking down one pillar entirely and causing the top of another to fall off. The car carried on a bit further, knocking down another bollard before finally coming to a stop. I do not know where exactly the pedestrians were. According to the Brent & Kilburn Times, no arrests have been made although that’s not apparently what a local vicar told his congregation – perhaps also pre-emptively saying it was a case of reckless driving.

According to a local resident, “The sound of the crash was horrific, with people rushing up Dynham Road and West End Lane to see what had happened. I did not hear any tires screeching – just the crash.  Ambulance crews were there in minutes. There was steam and dust everywhere at the scene. The immediate scenes of panic were shocking to see and hear. The car had come to rest head-on to the wall on Dynham Road at the junction of West End Lane. The driver was trapped in the car but seemed to be OK. Fire crews had to cut him out.”

According to the Evening Standard’s report, there was also a young child of 4 or 5 in the car, though it is not clear whether there were any other passengers.

The car was removed just before 3am Sunday.

I’m told there is a CCTV camera outside St James’ Mansions, so there may be some footage from that to help police. The lack of screeching tires, the age of the car and the driver and the extent of the damage done might lead one to suspect brake failure more than dangerous driving. Whatever the cause, it’s a tragedy that one local described as “the worst accident I’ve seen on West End Lane in all my 18 years living in West Hampstead”.

Witnesses or anyone with information is urged to call investigation unit on (0208) 842 1817.
Many of you have asked what we can do to help the families of the victims. In the short-term, the Family Liaison Officer is aware of this goodwill and will contact me if there is anything either family needs that we can help with.

The top of the right pillar is gone and the entire left pillar collapsed
Google Street View of what it used to look like
The traffic lights are now lying by the side of the adjacent wall

  • Anonymous

    Excellent reporting Jonathan. I could not have said it any better

  • Anonymous

    Got to say that it's hugely irresponsible to speculate on the cause of this accident without any information from the police

    • http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/ WHampstead

      if this refers to me, i’d just point out that as there was a flurry of people instantly assuming this was speed-related/reckless driving with no evidence to suggest that at this stage, I was merely pointing out that there are alternative explanations – perhaps I did not express that as clearly as I might have done. I did speak to police officers on the scene, and another officer has since thanked me for quelling the speeding rumours while they gather the facts.

    • Anonymous

      Well said again Jonathan

  • Anonymous

    This was a terrible scene. There are no words to describe this. May the victim rest in peace and I hope that somewhere some how something comes from this to improve road safety. The proximity of this accident should make us all realise how vulnerable we are. Deepest condolences to the families at this time.

  • Anonymous

    I also saw this..it was very a distressing scene. My thoughts are with the family of the people involved. I lit a candle yesterday for the lady who passed away at the scene.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08137193280692585269 Yiannis Achilleas

    I live across the street and was there when all this happened. My condolences to the loved ones of the woman who died. Does anyone know if she lived around? Can we help in some way her family and friends?
    Also, does anyone know of the other woman who was hospitalised? The police officer told me she was stable but does someone have any news on her?

    • http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/ WHampstead

      I'm afraid I don't have any details at the moment, either of the identity of the victim, or on the status of the other woman in hospital. As soon as I hear anything concrete I shall post it.

    • Mackenzie

      I am the friend of the girl in critical condition. I was first to confirm her identification at the hospital early yesterday morning. Her parents immediately flew over from the states when the police told them what had happened. She has several broken bones all over her body, but only time will tell what kind of damage happened from the trauma to her head. I appreciate everyones thoughts and prayers, especially those who were there and first on scene.

    • http://www.linesync.com/ Julie Lineberger

      The "other" woman is Amy Werner, a beloved member of the Wilmington/Dover Community in Vermont, USA. She recently arrived in London to complete a Master's Degree. Her parents are with her now. She is in our prayers, as is the young mother no longer with us.

    • http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/ WHampstead

      Thank you for sharing this with us. I think I can speak for all the local people in saying that our thoughts over the weekend have been with all those involved in this terrible accident. If there is anything the community can do to help, then please let us know.

    • http://www.linesync.com/ Julie Lineberger

      If Amy and family were home, there would be people organized to deliver food, drive the parents to/from the hospital, feed their animals, hold hands, etc. From here, we can only keep the animals fed and send our prayers. If your community can offer local support by stopping by the hospital and seeing what kindnesses they would accept, our community would be grateful – humanity strengthened across the pond!

    • Anonymous

      yes. Thank you for asking. She is the American daughter of a friend from my online community. Her parents are in transit or already there, but our understanding is that it is bad. Her parents will need all the support they can get – they are not seasoned travelers and will likely be in shock and need some help sorting things out

    • http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/ WHampstead

      Julie, if that's you who posted the last comment, I sent you an e-mail @ linesync.com.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08137193280692585269 Yiannis Achilleas

      Mackenzie, please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you and Amy's family. A police officer told me that she is in stable condition, so I hope she recovers quickly.
      Please drop me an email for anything you need or if you want to talk: moc.o1409613703ohay@140961370338_si1409613703toiss1409613703a1409613703
      And please let us know of any updates. Everyone's prayers are with her.

    • Stacey

      My husband and I are Americans from the Northeast and we live a few blocks from where this happened in West Hampstead. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those affected by this terrible accident. If there is anything that we can do to help Amy's family while they are so far away from home please let me know. My e-mail is moc.l1409613703iamto1409613703h@08314096137035ykca1409613703m1409613703

    • http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/ WHampstead

      Thank you for these offers. I will certainly be in touch when I hear back from the FLO. Doesn't seem appropriate at this stage to overwhelm the family with more points of contacts, so I'm waiting to hear back from the police who are absolutely aware of the community's desire to help.

    • Zac and Laura

      Mackensie, we are very close friends of Desreen, the woman who died. The accident happened outside of our flat as our friends were leaving.

      We would like to send a note of support to Amy and her family but are not sure how to get in touch. We won’t intrude on their privacy in any way, we just want to send a note. If you have a moment and don’t mind, please could you email details of the hospital or an address that we can send something to.

      Email address: ku.oc1409613703.liam1409613703toh@h1409613703crub_1409613703arual1409613703

      Also, if there is anything at all we can do to help or if Amy’s family want to speak to us at all, we are here.

  • Anonymous

    This accident took the life of young mother, who has left behind a husband and child. It is an unspeakable tragedy and I pray that she rests in peace and her family are able to find comfort in the midst of this pain.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08137193280692585269 Yiannis Achilleas

      My deepest condolences to her family. Do you have details of her funeral yet or can you reveal the name ?

  • Anonymous

    On the subject of pedestrian safety, is anyone else as concerned as me about the narrowness of the pavement in front of the building next to the Alice house, on the most pronounced part of the bend. All too often I’ve seen pedestrians coming withing a short distance of passing traffic. It would only take a wrong step onto the road to let someone else pass by (particularly walking towards the fire station) for a potentially deadly accident. Does anyone else share my fear?

    • Anonymous

      I generally route via sheriff road PRECISELY because I see the pavements as NARROW and LOW. And waddayaknow: this has now happened… like the Fitzjohns Av and Belsize Ln south corner is also another corner where a disaster is waiting to happen…

  • http://www.facebook.com/purfekt1984 Amanda Robinson

    Prayers from Arizona, Amy <3 !!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16045801152370028259 FiJackson

    Regarding the two victims, I am a local resident and this is truly devastating and sad for our local community and of course the family's and friends of those involved. Regarding the above comment re the pavement width on the high st, I totally agreed, I have two small children and rarely walk on that side of the road as I feel unsafe. The buses seem to pass extremely close to pedestrians!

  • Anonymous

    Agree fully with the last comment, our thoughts with the family.

  • Anonymous

    Would be nice to know if we can help in any way

    • http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/ WHampstead

      As soon as I hear back from the Family Liasion Officer, I will let everyone know.

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone know if the local churches are doing anything to assist either family? Like many local residents, I am shocked by this incident and would like to help in some way.

    • http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/ WHampstead

      I have not heard anything specifically about local churches getting involved. Hopefully I'll know more tomorrow and we can try and coordinate all the offers of support

  • Anonymous

    Such a terrible thing to have happened. So sorry for the family of the young woman. In an instant how things can change. Thoughts and prayers are with the family at such a sad time.

  • Anonymous

    I am a local resident.
    Myself, my other half and my housemates laid some flowers at the site yesterday. My thoughts are with the families of all those involved in this accident, and I hope that no-one thinks me selfish in posting what is below.

    LOST / MISSING / (stolen?) –

    I was one of the doctors who stopped while passing by the accident on West End Lane on Saturday to assist the paramedic crew. I am sorry that we couldn’t do more for the girl who didn’t survive.

    Somewhere / somewhen my ukelele-banjo that I had with me at the time has gone missing. It was my great grandfathers, and I was about to have it restored and renovated. It has great sentimental value to me.

    I have been to the local police station but they have no record of it being handed in – by the public or officers on scene. I will contact the central Lost Property office tomorrow to see if they have it.

    Any and all info would be very gratefully received on 07825160330.

    RIP – I am sorry that we couldn’t do more.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08137193280692585269 Yiannis Achilleas

      Could you give us a few more details please? such as, was it in a case, what colour, where did u leave it?
      I was further up the road, so was not at the same scene you were but if you provide more details maybe it will trigger someone’s memory.
      I am sure your help was more than appreciated. I feel disgusted that someone out there took advantage of this situation to steal something from you. I hope that you find it.

  • Zac and Laura

    The woman who died was our dear friend Desreen. She leaves behind a two year old son and a husband. They do not live nearby, they live in SE London but were visiting us for the day. We had the most wonderful day with them, painting pottery at Art 4 Fun and then an evening cooking and baking with us and some friends who we were celebrating good news with.

    This happened as they were leaving our house, practically on our doorstep. We still can’t believe this has happened.

    Thank you so much to the doctor who has posted above for stopping to help. There were a number of doctors passing who stopped to help and although it didn’t change anything in the end, we know that Desreen was given the very best care possible literally minutes after she was hit. Even that was too late. We and her family will be eternally grateful for those that tried to help her.

    We are also grateful for all the flowers placed at the scene and for all the messages – it is very comforting to know that people care.

    We all wish from the bottom of our hearts that Amy makes a full and quick recovery – one young life too many has already been wasted in this horrible accident.

    We miss you beautiful Desreen xx

    • http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/ WHampstead

      This is such a sad story. If there is anything at all that we as a community can do for her family, please do let me know. Our thoughts are with them, and with you.

  • Anonymous

    As a suggestion, perhaps one evening this or next week, we can gather in the green (end of west end lane), a cafe or other venue and hold a candle in the memory of this woman.

    It is a real tragedy and I can see that it has shaken and brought together the community. It would help for us to come together at some stage and reflect on what has happened and in support of the other lady who is still in hospital.

    I live just at the top of Dynham road and I know myself and my flatmates have been shaken by this. We give our sincere condolences and our thoughts go to the families.

    • http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/ WHampstead

      could you e-mail me? jonathan@[website address].

  • Anonymous

    I live on West End Lane opposite Dynham Road…I am so very sorry about Desreen & offer my sincere condolences.

    I tried to comfort Amy by covering her with my blanket as she was shivering…til the paramedics arrived…I pray that she manages to pull through & send special angels to hold her hand guiding her safely back to her family's arms.

    J

    • http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/ WHampstead

      Hi, I've spoken to Rich Werner, Amy's father, and he asked me to pass on his enormous gratitude to you for being with Amy at the time. I don't have any other contact details for you, so I hope you see this.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09143552472480479630 GAUTOM

    This is such a tragedy…I am Amy's class mate & few of us were catching up in Camden…Amy was on her way to meeting us when this happened…We are all hoping the very best for her..My condolences to the friends & family of Desreen…Life's so Fragile :(

  • Could someone please send the address of the hospital and room number that Amy is in? I am relitive and would like to send a card…..along with other that are concerned.ty

  • Anonymous

    SE London is not the same in Desreen*s area. Poor guy. You should see him. A walking shell. Still, would you believe the thing a lot of local residents are discussing has caused 2 lives to survive. Just.

    Like most people pushing a buggy with loved ones, the buggy is always in the front. If the pavement was wide as most are; then the whole family would have been walking next to each other. They may all have escaped; or they all would have perished. In a strange way, fate dealt a crazy hand and the father and buggy was infront. With the accident happening behind, the after result was seen. Could you imagine a two year old kid having to go through life with the last memories of his mother being knocked down. I dread to think of this.
    As it is now; life is continuing even though it feels so unreal. Why did this happen. Can someone confirm that asset. Why?

  • http://openid.aol.com/t4cson t4cson

    Sending condolences to the friends and family of Desreen.
    I want to thank all the angels who stepped in so quickly to help when the accident occurred as seconds count.
    Sending prayers and strength to Amy…and to her family and friends. She is Vermont Strong and we are routing for her recovery across the way..

  • http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/ WHampstead

    For those asking about the families, and how we can support them: http://www.westhampsteadlife.com/2012/11/west-end-lane-crash-can-we-help.html

  • Anonymous

    Rest in peace Desreen. The Lord was ready for you. Amy, you will be stronger by the day and this experience will enrich your life. Wishing families and friends strength to cope in this hard time. E

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