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Natalie Wade

Natalie Wade

Natalie Wade

THE aunt of a 28-year-old woman from Rochford,  who was killed by a driver with poor eyesight has welcomed new roadside vision tests.

Brenda Gutberlet’s niece Natalie Wade died on Valentine’s Day in 2006, while out shopping for her wedding dress.

Ms Wade was knocked down on a pedestrian crossing, along with her mother, Christine Gutberlet, by 78-year-old John Thorpe.

Ms Gutberlet survived, but Ms Wade suffered severe brain damage from, which she died in intensive care.

Mr Thorpe was blind in one eye and had 40 defects in the other, but had not declared his sight problems to the DVLA.

He died of natural causes before his trial could be completed.

The inquest returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

Ms Gutberlet, 68, a retired vicar from Canvey Island, has long campaigned for regular eyesight tests for drivers aged over 60, to prevent this sort of tragedy reoccurring.

She said: “Natalie was a wonderful, bubbly young woman, full of life and laughter.

“She was lovely to be around. The years since her death have been a rollercoaster, for Natalie’s parents and for all her family and friends. It’s hard to put into words what it has been like.”

Speaking recently, Ms Gutberlet welcomed the news that roadside tests that are due to be set up and called the move a step in the right direction.

The initiative will see Police start roadside eye tests for drivers, which could lead to £1,000 fine and three penalty points. In the most serious cases, it could result in a driving disqualification.

Drivers who are pulled over will need to be able to read a number plate 20 metres away.

Ms Gutberlet added: “Anything that improves safety for road users and pedestrians is to be welcomed.

“Although there is more to safe driving than having good vision, we know that too many people are killed, hurt and disabled due to drivers who cannot see properly.

“So many families and people are put through hell as a result.”

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