The district councillor for Etchingham described the woman who died when she was hit by a generator as ‘irreplaceable’ and ‘a future village starlet’.
Emma Beeney died after a generator fell off a truck and hit her on High Street on Monday morning (August 8) – her husband Rob suffered serious injuries.
Rother District Councillor Mary Barnes said the whole village is devastated and shocked by the incident.
“It’s just all too horrible to contemplate, it could have been anyone, it could have been me, it could have been a member of my family, it was just an innocent bystander who was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Cllr Barnes told the Observer.
“The emotion of the village is of utter shock and devastation.
“Everyone’s stunned that such a lovely girl, someone who helped at the fete, and her lovely husband are not going to be with us.”
Mrs Beeney, 40, of Willow Close, was hit by the generator which fell off a Ford Transit lorry near the level crossing at around 6.55am.
She was reportedly walking her husband to the station to get the train to work with their pet cocker spaniel.
A man jumped over a church wall to avoid the generator.
Paramedics scrambled to save her after passersby performed CPR but she died at the scene.
Tributes have been pouring in for Mrs Beeney who worked as a warrant officer in the Army in Andover, Hampshire, with people leaving flowers and messages on the church wall.
Her mother Maggie called her ‘the most beautiful person and the most precious person’.
Mrs Beeney was a regular helper at the summer fete and other village events.
“It’s difficult enough to find 40-year-olds willing to give up time for others and we can’t afford to lose them,” Cllr Barnes said.
“She was going to be a real village starlet and she will be missed.”
Cllr Barnes, who is also a member of the parish council, added: “We are all just hoping that her husband is not permanently or badly injured and he can make a full recovery, and that their family will ever get their lives back together again.”
Etchingham Parish Church will be open all day on Saturday (August 13) for people to light candles in memory of Mrs Beeney and vicar Sally Epps will lead a service in the morning at 10.30am.
A 42-year-old man from Ashford, Kent, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and has been questioned and released on bail until October 5.
Cllr Barnes said the village has a serious problem with vans and lorries going too fast, although police told her this driver was not speeding.
“On the whole, our ‘sleepy little village’ as The Sun described us, is torn asunder by the large amount of lorries that come through the village and do not allow people to live their lives sleepily.
“I’m not saying that it was in this incident because police have said the possibility is the driver was not particularly speeding, but it’s one more in a catalogue of damaged wing mirrors, lorries mounting the pavements, which is desperately dangerous with children walking on the narrow pavements to the new school.
“We all feel it’s unsafe at the moment particularly for young people. It’s getting worse all the time.”
The councillor described the high street as an ‘accident waiting to happen’.
“It’s a certain fact that when the road is relatively clear, white van men career through the village at around 60mph, which is legitimate as we have a road safety team,” she said.
“And when people are not in their own territory they don’t behave well.”
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