A man was left with devastating injuries after he stopped to help following an accident in a “horrendous sequence of events” in “worst ever conditions” on the A19.
Martin Bruce was going too fast for the “poor” conditions on the A19 on August 8 last year when he lost control and slammed into good Samaritans who had stopped in a lay-by to help after an earlier incident, South Tyneside magistrates heard.
The 30-year-old travelling salesman had been overtaking slower cars in his Mercedes when it left the northbound carriageway, near Seaham.
Prosecutor Glenda Beck said: “The weather was very wet with standing water and visibility was reduced from the spray.
“Two witnesses were travelling north and had adjusted their driving style.
“They became aware of the defendant overtaking them in the poor conditions. They believed it was going too fast for the conditions.
“A number of vehicles had stopped in a lay-by near the B1404 to assist other motorists with a previous incident.
“A woman was in her vehicle talking on the phone when she became aware of an overwhelming force, which forced her car from the road and down a grass verge.
“The other injured party was on foot in the lay-by. He recalls a terrific bang and later woke up looking towards the sky.
“He suffered a number of serious injuries.
“The defendant had left the A19 and collided with a parked vehicle.
“Officers attended the scene to deal with the collision. He stated that he had been on the phone at the time of the RTC, on the Bluetooth hands-free.
“He was travelling at 70mph despite the conditions.
“He decided to overtake several vehicles. He disagrees he was too fast, but accepts he should have adjusted his driving to the conditions at the time.
“He maintained the weather was to blame.
“He believed the injured party had been injured as a result of debris and that he had not hit the male.”
The male victim said in a statement: “I use the A19 regularly and this is the worst I’ve ever seen the conditions.”
The 53-year-old and the woman from the Audi were taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital by ambulance. The nature of the woman’s injuries were not revealed in court.
The male was transferred to the RVI in Newcastle later that evening.
Ms Beck said: “His blood pressure dropped and he started to vomit. He was intubated and ventilated.
“He was treated as a major trauma patient and was admitted to the ITU department.”
She said there was a suggestion of a neck fracture, however this was found not to be the case.
He was found to have right rib fractures, lung contusions, a pelvic ring dislocating fracture, a shoulder dislocating fracture and a right neck of fibula fracture.
The man spent six days in the ITU until he was fit for surgery.
An x-ray showed his pelvis and ankle fractures were unstable and he needed surgery eight days after the accident.
He needed further surgery five days later, to further repair his pelvis and shoulder.
On August 26, he was moved to the major trauma rehabilitation unit. A statement from his consultant, in October, stated that he would likely need extensive rehabilitation therapy.
Bruce, of Galway Road, Grindon, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention.
Charlie Carr, defending Bruce, said: “There’s been a an awful lot of talking about the condition of this man. There were two people hurt.
“One was the woman in the passenger’s seat of the Audi.
“There is no doubting that the man suffered significant injuries.
“He had been the driver of a different car that had stopped to help with an earlier incident. He suffered horrific injuries it has to be said.
“It seems to have been a horrendous sequence of events on a very bad day.
“I think you all have experience of the A19 and the great number of crashes with people losing their lives. This appears to have been a particularly bad day.
“The lady in the Audi calls it ‘a terrible road’ in her statement.
“There are daily crashes on that road regardless of the conditions, but it is particularly dangerous with water on the road.
“She said she saw a white van spin out of control. It left the road, which caused her to go into the lay-by.
“She pulls up and it’s quite clear the white van driver was having difficulties that day.
“The man who suffered significant injuries that day doesn’t know whether he was hit by the car or hit by debris. The details are sketchy.
“He is very generous in his statement. He sums it up as ‘one terrible, horrible accident’. The defendant is grateful for that.
“He is ever so aware that this man went out to go to work that day and he had no intention to cause anyone these injuries.
“Other people had difficulty driving that day.
“Yes, he was on the phone, but he was on his Bluetooth.
“He wasn’t speeding but he concedes than in the circumstances he has probably gone a bit too fast for the conditions.”
The court heard the incident has had a major psychological impact on Bruce, which affected his work.
Bruce told magistrates: “I was mentally affected after the accident. I’m now in £12,000 of debt.”
He was fined £600 and was told to pay £85 costs and a £60 surcharge. His driving licence was endorsed with seven points.