Cumbria flood death Pc 'devoted to job'

image captionHazel Barker described her husband as a loyal officer

The widow of a policeman who died when a Cumbrian bridge collapsed in floods said he considered it an honour to serve the people of the county.

Pc Bill Barker, 44, was on Northside Bridge in Workington last November when a section of it gave way underneath him and he was swept away.

His wife Hazel, 56, told the inquest in Cleator Moor of his dedication to work.

A fellow Cumbria Police officer said Pc Barker's family liaison work was "exceptional".

Mrs Barker said: "I am going to be biased. A more loyal officer you could not find.

"He considered it an honour and privilege to serve the people of west Cumbria."

'Satisfactory condition'

Pc Barker was nearing the end of his night shift when he responded to a report that a car may have fallen off the bridge.

His wife said: "Bill was there that day because that was Bill."

The inquest was told Pc Barker had served in the region for 25 years and in the roads policing unit since 1991.

He pioneered Cumbria Police's family liaison service to work with the family of victims of serious incidents.

image captionPc Bill Barker had been with the Cumbria force for 25 years

Ch Insp Kevin Greenhow said he was "exceptional" in the role.

Earlier, Health and Safety Executive inspector Steven Parncutt said the bridge passed its last general inspection in July 2008 with only a small number of defects detected.

He said: "The records showed the bridge as generally being regarded in satisfactory condition.

"I cannot give a definitive answer as to why it collapsed but I consider it possible the force of the waters was of such magnitude that it simply overcame the resistance of the bridge."

Environment Agency flood management incident specialist Diane Jackson told the hearing a combination of excessive mild air in the low part of the atmosphere, a large amount of moisture and severe gale force winds contributed to a one-in-1,000-year event.

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