A MAN from Rawtenstall was in a ‘critical’ condition in hospital last night after being injured in a car crash in which another man died.

The head-on smash happened in Wilpshire. The dead driver was Robert Carson, 35, who was driving his Vauxhall Corsa in Whalley New Road, between the Bulls Head pub and the Wilpshire Hotel, when the crash happened.

He was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital after being freed from his car by firefighters, but died shortly after.

Police said his car collided with a Ford Focus being driven in the opposite direction by the 24-year-old man from Rawtenstall. He also had to be cut out by firefighters before he was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

The man, who has not been named, has since been transferred to Royal Preston Hospital, where his condition was last night described as ‘critical’.

Yesterday floral tributes to Mr Carson, from Blackburn, were laid at the scene.

One card read: “To my beautiful, wonderful husband Rob. You weren’t just my husband, you were also my best friend. Love you forever your loving wife Sammie.

“You were a great dad lots of love Robert xxx”

Another read: “To Rob, you will always be in our thoughts, we all love you so much. See you on the other side xxx from all of the family.” A further tribute, said: “To Rob, you will always be dearly missed. RIP my friend. Rose x”

Mr Carson had worked for WEC Machining in Darwen since May.

Paul Atlin, general manager, said: “Rob joined earlier in the year as a skilled grinder and quickly earned the respect of his colleagues. He was very well liked. He was a good guy and will be sadly missed.”

Residents in the Whalley New Road area said they had been trying to get motorway-style safety barriers fitted in the area after a series of crashes over the past five years.

Witnesses living near to the crash site said they realised something was immediately wrong after hearing ‘an almighty bang’ just after 10.30pm on Sunday.

One resident said: “I was getting ready for bed when I heard an enormous bang. It was startlingly loud.

“I looked out and could see two cars in the middle of the road and then the emergency services arrived.

“All the emergency services worked tirelessly to help those injured. They were real troopers.”

Trevor and Marianne Bull’s home backs on to Whalley New Road and after hearing the collision they went out to help.

Mr Bull, 59, said: “Living here you get used to recognising the noise of a crash. This was different, I didn’t hear any brakes first like I normally would.

“I quickly threw some clothes on to see if I could be of help. A man who must have been driving down the road at the same time of collision had pulled over and was slowing down the traffic.

“There were two others trying to reach a man who was unconscious in the car and others stood by watching.”

Mrs Bull, 61, said: “I knew it had to be serious because the paramedics were working on the drivers for what seemed like ages.

“Both cars were really smashed up. My heart goes out to both of the drivers’ families.”

Residents in the Whalley New Road area said they had been trying to get motorway style safety barriers fitted in the area after a series of crashes over the past five years.

One neighbour said: “The residents have been campaigning for safety barriers near the road because of fears the impact of a serious collision could cause a car to mount the pavement and go through the brick wall.

“But we were always told this wasn’t possible because there had been no fatalities on this stretch of road.”

Over the past four years there have been four crashes resulting in injuries on the same stretch, according to county hall chiefs.

Wilpshire Coun Stuart Hirst said: “For many years we have been on to the county council about putting some traffic calming measures in around there, it is a very dangerous road.”

The road was closed for four hours to allow accident investigators to carryout their work Sgt Mick Young appealed for witnesses.

He said: “The families of the men involved have been informed and we have specially trained officers supporting them through this difficult time.”