A WELL known Aberystwyth man died in a head-on car crash when “age caught up” with an elderly driver and she fell asleep at the wheel.
Margaret Christopher, aged 81, had been looking for a layby to take a break when she failed to even attempt to take a left hand bend and drove straight into Dai England’s Peugeot 208.
Mr England died two days later from injuries to his heart and his central nervous system.
His daughter Rhian, a passenger in the front seat, suffered fractures to her arm, elbow and knee and spent three months in a wheelchair.
For the 48 hours after the crash doctors thought Christopher would die but she survived.
Today, she admitted causing death by careless driving. She was jailed for 14 months, suspended for two years, and banned from driving for two years.
Francis Jones, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that on March 19 last year Christopher, then aged 80, was part way through a six and a half hour drive from her home in Southport, Lancashire, to her daughter’s home in Broad Haven. She had promised to look after her daughter’s dog while she went on holiday.
Christopher had taken two breaks, the last one in Machynleth. But as she approached Aberystwyth on the A4159 at Lovesgrove she felt she needed another one.
Mr Jones said Christopher entered a left hand bend but drove straight on and her Vauxhall Astra hit the Peugeot.
Mr England and his daughter had to be cut out of the wreckage. At the scene he was able to talk to paramedics but the 67 year old died in the University of Wales hospital in Cardiff two days later.
Mr Jones said other drivers thought Christopher had not even tried to take the bend and there was no sign that she had braked.
Rhian England remembered her father braking hard and turning to his left, but he could not avoid the collision.
Mr Jones said both cars were in good condition, as was the road surface, and the weather had been fine and visibility was good. Speed was not a factor, he added.
Christopher, he said, had no recollection of the collision and could not offer an explanation.
In a victim impact statement Mr England’s widow, Mair, said she thought about her soul-mate all of the time. They had been married for 44 years and had three children and two grandchildren.
Andrew Nuttall, the barrister representing Christopher, said she also thought about Mr England and his family every day.
“She understands very well that words give little comfort to the family. But all she can say is that she is very, very sorry.
“She really has no idea what happened. She has decided never to drive again,” he added.
Judge Huw Davies told Christopher, “Age caught up with you in a tragic way and without warning.
“You think you must have fallen asleep. There is no other explanation for what happened.”
He said Christopher had “taken a chance” by undertaking such a long journey at her age.
“That day, that drive was asking too much or your stamina. But you took the risk of carrying on,” he added.
Judge Davies said Christopher had been driving since 1960 and had an impeccable record.
But he had to pass a prison sentence that was aimed at the whole community and reflected the consequences of driving without due care.
Christopher, of Hoole Lane, Banks, Southport, was also ordered to pass an extended driving test should she ever want her licence back.
Parents warned to look out for respiratory illness in children
RESPIRATORY Syncytial Virus (RSV) is circulating amongst children and toddlers in the Hywel Dda area (Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire)
Hywel Dda UHB Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive Dr Philip Kloer said: “Because of the COVID restrictions, there have been few cases of RSV during the pandemic, but this virus has returned and in higher numbers now people are mixing more.
“RSV is a common respiratory illness which is usually picked up by children during the winter season, and causes very few problems to the majority of children. However, very young babies, particularly those born prematurely, and children with heart or lung conditions, can be seriously affected and it’s important that parents are aware of the actions to take.”
Parents are being encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe infection in at-risk children, including:
*a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever)
*a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing).
The best way to prevent RSV is to wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser regularly, dispose of used tissues correctly, and to keep surfaces clean and sanitised.
Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks, but you should contact your GP or call NHS 111 if:
- You are worried about your child.
- Your child has taken less than half their usual amount during the last two or three feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more.
- Your child has a persistent high temperature of 37.8C or above.
- Your child seems very tired or irritable.
Dial 999 for an ambulance if:
- your baby is having difficulty breathing
- your baby’s tongue or lips are blue
- there are long pauses in your baby’s breathing
New Quay RNLI rescues person cut off by the tide
NEW Quay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was launched on service on Saturday September 11 following a report of a person cut off by the tide at Traeth Gwyn, New Quay.
With three crew members on board the inshore lifeboat Audrey LJ it launched on service at 11.15am and did an extensive search of the beach before finding the casualty who had been cut off by the high spring tide.
Brett Stones, New Quay RNLI’s helm said, “There was an initial confusion on the location of the casualty but an update from the New Quay Coastguard Rescue team, who had fought their way down from the cliff top through thick undergrowth, allowed us to locate the person.
“We then transferred the casualty and two of the coastguard team onto the boat. We dropped the casualty off at Llanina Point and brought the two coastguard officers back to the lifeboat station. The inshore lifeboat was then rehoused and ready for service by 12.25pm.
“Remember if you see if you see anyone in difficulty or you find yourself in trouble on the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”
Ben Lake shows support for farmers on Back British Farming Day
BEN Lake MP has today shown support for British food and farming on Back British Farming Day, recognising the crucial role farmers in Ceredigion play in producing food for the nation.
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) provided MPs with the emblem of the day – a wool and wheatsheaf pin badge – to enable them to join the celebration of agriculture. Food and farming is a key business sector, worth more than £120 billion to the UK economy and providing jobs for almost four million people.
The NFU chose the day to launch a new report which asks for Government to complete a comprehensive report on UK food security later this year, covering the country’s production of key foods and its contribution to global food security. This would be the first meaningful assessment of UK food security in over a decade.
Commenting, Ben Lake MP, said: “I’m proud to wear a pin badge today to show my support for Ceredigion’s fantastic farmers and growers. The day presents an opportunity to thank the farmers who feed us, as well as take care of our countryside and maintain our iconic Welsh landscapes.
“I fully support the campaign which is asking us all to value locally produced food. I will be calling on Government to adopt agricultural policies that ensure farming in Ceredigion can thrive and ensure our self-sufficiency does not fall below its current level of 60%, alongside a greater ambition in promoting Welsh food to aid UK food security.”
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