Father speaks out over A27 dangers

Chichester A27 bypass West bound from the Bognor road bridge PPP-140628-083338006
Chichester A27 bypass West bound from the Bognor road bridge PPP-140628-083338006

A FATHER whose 18-year-old son died in an accident has spoken out in support of an A27 Action group.

Steve Bernard, a physical education student studying at the University of Chichester, was killed nearly nine years ago – at the Nyton Road junction on the A27 between Fontwell and Tangmere.

Now his father Tony has pledged his support to the A27 Action campaign group which is lobbying the government to improve the roads and junctions.

“You are just playing Russian roulette on these major roads,” said Tony, who lives in Bournemouth with his wife and son, 22-year-old Jacques.

“I wouldn’t want anyone else to suffer like we have.

“Anything that will improve safety and save people’s lives has to be 
a bonus.”

The A27 Action group, which officially launched last Thursday, aims to improve six junctions around the Chichester bypass and the Fontwell roundabout. In addition to the improvements, Mr Bernard is also calling for the Highways Agency to fill in the crossing points.

“I live in Bournemouth and my wife’s family is in Brighton so we’re on the road a fair bit. You just see people cut across – it’s awful.

“There have been so many accidents there. If you go 
to the roundabout it would only put a few minutes on to your journey. No-one should risk it.”

After Steve’s death, his family set up the Steve Bernard Foundation – to remember Steve and raise funds for sport projects.

“When 1,200 people turn out to a funeral, you start to realise how popular he was,” said Mr Bernard.

“When people started making donations, we thought what are we going to do?”

Since the foundation was formed in February 2006, it has gone on to raise more than £180,000 for sporting projects based across the south coast. It is also being backed by the university.

The foundation has supported more than 150 projects covering more than 20 sports and four continents.

“Steve would have been the best sports teacher – it was his passion,” said Mr Bernard.

Jacques also has his brother’s – and father’s – enjoyment of sport and has studied to become a sports psychologist.

“He idolised his brother,” said Mr Bernard.

The accident also killed Steve’s fellow students Rebecca Seymour, from Brighton, and James Daniels, from Newhaven, both 19, who were also based at the Bognor Regis campus. The two other students, and the driver of the other car were injured.

Mr Bernard said the junction was unclear – especially as it was a dark night in November.

“It is very hard to judge – and we all know people do more than 70mph. Hopefully this campaign will help.”