Couple 'lucky to be alive' after car crash
A COUPLE who survived a collision when a car swerved out of control say they are "lucky to be alive".
Exeter Crown Court heard that Jacqueline Stockwell, along with her husband Anthony and 13-year-old son Nicholas, were travelling on the A3052 near Crealy when they were struck by Guzzy Lee.
The 26-year-old, formerly of the travellers' site on Sowton in Exeter but now living in Cornwall, had been attempting a "dangerous overtaking manoeuvre" when the incident occurred on May 30 last year.
Beth Heaton, prosecuting, told the court that Lee, who cannot read and is working as a landscape gardener, was overtaking two vehicles and had crossed a double white line.
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She said: "When he saw an oncoming vehicle he swerved back into his lane but lost control and came back into the path of the oncoming car, striking it and pushing it into a hedge."
A witness said Lee was driving "like a bat out of hell" and Mrs Heaton read a statement from Mrs Stockwell to the court.
She said: "It was clear he had lost control. I tried to swerve but then he hit us and everything went dark. The airbags deployed and I could see vapour coming from the engine and I thought the car would explode."
Her husband forced the door open and the family escaped although Mrs Stockwell was bleeding heavily from a cut to her foot. In her statement, she added: "We are lucky to be alive."
The bonnet was ripped off Lee's Ford Focus in the incident and landed some 50 metres from the incident while his engine was also found some distance from the collision. He and his passenger suffered numerous injuries.
Lee initially gave no comment to police but later expressed his remorse.
Gareth Evans, defending, said the crash had a profound effect on Lee who was struggling to support his wife and young family after being given an interim driving ban.
Lee admitted dangerous driving and was jailed for 26 weeks, suspended for a year, ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work and banned from driving for three years.
Judge John Neligan said: "I have seen the photographs of this incident and I think it is a miracle nobody was very seriously injured or even fatally injured. There was a child in the car with which you collided and it must have been extremely upsetting for the people in it.
"You are very lucky to be alive. You overtook two cars in a reckless and aggressive manner when it was dangerous to do so."
He said it was better Lee was punished in the community rather than being sent to jail.