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Petition launched for A21 safety measures following death of Kathryn Knight near Tonbridge

The grieving family of a woman who died after an accident on the A21 have hit out at Highways England for claiming against her insurance to replace the barriers which they believe should have stopped her car plunging down a hill.

Kathryn Knight died aged 40 after her Mini Cooper crashed into a fence on the dual carriageway near Castle Hill in Tonbridge in November.

KMTV speaks to Kathryn's brother Paul Knight

The personal trainer – known as Kath – had been on her way to a friend's house in West Wickham when the tragic incident occurred.

Her brother Paul Knight says Highways England has put in a claim against his sister’s insurance to cover the cost of replacing the broken structures.

But the 45-year-old feels there needs to be a serious safety inspection before they are reinstalled to check if further safety measures are also needed before more lives are lost.

He added: “From what we’ve heard from the police, Kath hit the middle barrier, bounced off, and went through the fence on the other side before rolling down the embankment to her death.

“As a family we are angry these barriers didn’t stop her rolling down the hill.

Kathryn with brother Paul
Kathryn with brother Paul

“The authority has now claimed against her insurance to replace the fence but we want to find out if these measures are safe or whether they should actually be looking at installing new ones entirely.

“They failed to save my sister and that can’t happen to anyone else.”

Mr Knight, alongside his brother Darren, set up a petition calling for further safety measures on the stretch which has been signed by some 930 people.

Mr Knight added: "It's not about getting justice because we’re not saying anything has been done wrong, we are saying now this has happened it should be investigated.

“She was a very careful driver. She did that commute many times.

Kath Knight, 40
Kath Knight, 40

"We don’t know if she lost concentration or if it was something else, but what we do know is that the barriers didn't save her when they should have."

A police investigation is also underway.

In July 2019 slightly further down the A21, dentist, Subhash Pai, died after his car aquaplaned on a wet carriageway and crashed into a fence.

That year MPs including Greg Clark and Tom Tugendhat called for action.

Mr Tugendhat, who represents Tonbridge and Malling, said he is still pressing Highways England today and shares the family's concerns.

Kathryn with nephew Harry and niece Georgia
Kathryn with nephew Harry and niece Georgia

The added: “This road was a major piece of engineering, and a welcome one for those of us who remember the road before, but there are clearly issues that need to be looked at and I'm absolutely adamant that Highways England really need to get on with it as a matter of urgency here.

"I'm told various investigations are ongoing but sadly things have been delayed because of the coronavirus."

The newly dualled section of the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury was opened in September 2017.

Work took three years and cost £70 million.

Mr Tugendhat's views were echoed by Cllr Nicolas Heslop, the leader of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council who is also pressing for the highways authority to look into the crash barrier defences and flooding issues 'sooner rather than later'.

Highways England offered its condolences to the Knight family, adding safety is its priority and it will provide any assistance to both the police and any coroner’s inquiry.

To view the petition, click here.

Read more:All the latest news from Tonbridge

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