Speed limits being massively cut on Leeds Road after 18-year-old girl killed by speeding drink driver

Left, the A660 where the crash happened. Right, Kate Whalley
Left, the A660 where the crash happened. Right, Kate Whalley
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Proposals are being drawn up to cut the speed limit of a road near Leeds following the death of an 18-year-old girl in a horror crash.

Kate Whalley was knocked down and killed by a drink driver who downed five pints before getting behind the wheel in June 2017.

Kate Whalley was killed on the A660 near Leeds

Kate Whalley was killed on the A660 near Leeds

Kate, aged 18, had been walking home from an A-Level exam when she was hit by Kieran McGowan after he had spent the afternoon drinking in the pub.

Kate was in her final year at Harrogate Grammar School and was hoping to go to Newcastle University to study psychology.

The fatal collision occurred as she walked along Otley Road on her way home from an A level exam.

The prosecutor said McGowan “catastrophically lost control” of the vehicle at a bend.

His Fiesta mounted the pavement and struck a lamp post before hitting Kate and landing on its roof. Witnesses estimated that McGowan had been driving at between speeds of 60mph to 80mph shortly before the crash, which happened in a 40mph zone.

Plans to change speed limit

Proposals to cut the speed limit have been published on the website of Leeds Councillor Barry Anderson.

The proposals state: "The Best City ambition is to improve life for the people of Leeds and make our city a better place. Following a fatal collision at the Bar House Bends, there was a call for a review of the speed limit on A660 Leeds Road between Old Pool Bank and Rotary Way/Leeds Road roundabout.

"The outcome of this review against the latest Department for Transport guidance supported a reduction in the speed limit from unrestricted to 50mph on the long straight section from Rotary Way Roundabout – Otley.

"The review also concluded that the current 40mph speed limit leading into the small hamlet and through the bar house bends was the correct speed limit, although it is proposed to extend the current 40mph speed limit beyond the first set of properties to give approaching drivers more opportunity to reduce their speeds before entering the more built up environment.

"These measures will help to facilitate and promote the safe passage of traffic."

What the changes will mean:

The effect of the proposed measures will be as follows;

A 40mph speed limit on A660 Leeds Road, from a point 539 metres north west of its junction with Old Pool Bank in a south easterly direction to a point 169 metres south east from its junction with The Birches.

A 50mph speed limit on Leeds Road, from a point 539 metres north west of its junction with Old Pool Bank in a north westerly direction to a point 600 metres south east of its intersection with the inscribed circle of the Rotary Way/Leeds Road roundabout

What happened in court after Kate's death

THE heartbroken father of an 18-year-old woman who died after being hit by a speeding driver described his daughter’s killer as a "lunatic".

McGowan, 23, of Knox Way, Harrogate, was jailed for four and half years after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

Hurst, 32, of Beamsley View, Ilkley, was locked up for seven months after pleading guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Kate's father, Michael, read a victim impact statement at Leeds Crown Court.

McGowan, dressed in a suit, sat in the dock and stared at the floor as Mr Whalley spoke.

He said: “It is a crying shame that he did not think of the consequences of his lunatic driving behaviour on June 22, 2017, resulting in him hitting our daughter, causing her skull to be shattered on the road.

“There is no defence for his actions. “As a father I have lost my daughter.

“Not being able to celebrate her graduation, not being able to have the pride to walk her down the aisle and not being able to share our love.”

Mr Whalley said McGowan had “rubbed salt in the wounds” by telling lies after Kate’s death.

Kate's mother, Diane Jordan, also spoke in court. She said: “Kate was a beautiful daughter. She was vibrant and very full of life. She was a big part of me and I loved her very much.

“She was a very special and confident young lady whose future looked bright and exciting, “We were all very proud of her.

“The grief and pain we have suffered as a whole family, including Tom, Kate’s boyfriend, is hard to put in to words.”

The fatal collision occurred as she walked along Otley Road on her way home from an A level exam. The prosecutor said McGowan “catastrophically lost control” of the vehicle at a bend.

His Fiesta mounted the pavement and struck a lamp post before hitting Kate and landing on its roof.

Witnesses estimated that McGowan had been driving at between speeds of 60mph to 80mph shortly before the crash, which happened in the 40mph zone.

The speedometer reading on the vehicle at the point of the collision was 56mph.

Mr Smith said McGowan failed a roadside breath test. He was under the drink drive limit when he was tested again at a police station. The prosecutor said investigators were able to do a “back-calculation” based on the amount he had drank in the pub to assess if he was over the limit at the time of the crash.

Mr Smith said: “It is very likely that that the defendant would have been over the drink drive limit.”