79-year-old Sunderland driver left children close to death in smash

Margaret Lowery, 79, leaving Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court on dangerous driving charges after she crashed her car into a family car with Sophie and Jack Handyside inside

Margaret Lowery, 79, leaving Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court on dangerous driving charges after she crashed her car into a family car with Sophie and Jack Handyside inside

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A WEARSIDE pensioner left two children fighting for their lives when she smashed into their oncoming car.

Margaret Lowery, 79, from Ashbrooke, Sunderland, was behind the wheel when she swerved on to the wrong side of the road and smashed into the car taking Jack Handyside, 11, and his eight-year-old sister Sophie to a swimming lesson.

The youngsters were lucky to survive the accident, which left them with life-threatening injuries.

Sophie suffered a fractured skull, while Jack was diagnosed with a bleed on the brain, which was severely swollen.

Lowery pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and will face sentencing at Durham Crown Court next month.

The crash happened last September when Jack and Sophie, from Butterknowle, near Bishop Auckland, were being taken swimming with their dad Darren, 45.

It sparked a major rescue operation, with three helicopters deployed to the A688, near Staindrop, County Durham.

The children were airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle, and admitted to intensive care.

But the pair, who amazed doctors with their recovery, are now back at school.

Speaking after the court hearing, mum Julie, 42, said: “When the accident happened it was just a nightmare.

“It’s impossible to describe how you feel in that situation where your two young children are just laying helpless in intensive care. To have them fighting back is just such a relief and the driver taking some responsibility is the next step in our battle for justice.

“It is disappointing it has taken this long for the defendant to plead guilty as the crash seemed to be clearly her fault.

“I hope all drivers take note of our situation and realise that there are massive consequences of car accidents.”

Meanwhile, the family have launched a compensation bid to pay for rehabilitation. John Davis, an expert serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, which is overseeing the claim, said: “This was a devastating crash for these young children and we are now working with the family to help them through this difficult period of rehabilitation and recovery.

“The impact of the injuries is life-changing not only for Sophie and Jack but the whole family and it is crucial that they receive the specialist support they all need as they battle back from this trauma. We can now hopefully move forward with agreeing liability with the defendants insurers to help provide the necessary funds to help provide Sophie and Jack with their recovery.” Lowery, who was also injured in the crash, was granted bail, served with an interim driving ban, and is expected to be sentenced on November 12.