Pensioner denies causing fatal crash

Dundee Sheriff Court
Dundee Sheriff Court

A pensioner accused of killing a man in a horror head-on smash has denied she was at fault.

Jacqueline Low-Mitchell told a jury that Adam Maxwell had come “hurtling” towards her in the middle of the road before the collided on the A916 near Craigrothie in north-east Fife.

The 83-year-old said she had broken her ankle in the smash - but had got back behind the wheel as soon as it was healed.

And she denied that she herself had caused the crash that killed 28-year-old Adam by overtaking a cyclist as she approached a blind crest on the rural road.

Giving evidence in her own defence on the third day of her trial at Dundee Sheriff Court, Mrs Low-Mitchell said there had been a “loud bang” when her Jeep Cherokee and Adam’s Vauxhall Nova collided.

She said: “I wasn’t able to avoid the collision.

“There was a loug bang and I came to a crunching halt.

“I was worried the car was going to blow up.

“I tried to open the door but I couldn’t - and my foot was stuck, my ankle was broken.”

Fiscal depute Vicki Bell asked her: “The other drivers told us they didn’t think it was safe to overtake on that hill, why did you not consider tucking in behind the cyclist and slowing down?”

Mrs Low-Mitchell said: “I thought that there was plenty of time and the road was clear.”

Miss Bell said: “The cyclist thought the person driving the Jeep was an idiot for overtaking her on that hill. She said that was because you couldn’t see anything coming the other way.”

Mrs Low-Mitchell replied: “I can see where she is coming from.

“But I don’t think I was responsible.

“In my opinion I had completed my manouevre and was back on my side of the road.”

Miss Bell asked: “You spoke about phoning your daughter after the crash. Did you think of phoning the emergency services?”

She replied: “No.”

Crash investigator PC Ian Gemmell earlier told the court that it was his opinion the “primary factor [in the crash] was Mrs Low-Mitchell having executed an overtake on the approach to a blind crest.

PC Gemmell said: “The main cause is the position of the vehicle on the opposing lane.

“It would appear that the overtake may have been completed in that she has passed the obstruction and was in the process of returning to her own side of the road.”

The court was earlier told that paramedics arrived on the scene 12 minutes after the 999 call was received from the cyclist Mrs Low-Mitchell had overtaken.

He was found unconscious, unresponsive with “obvious” fractures to his right arm and both legs.

Adam was airlifted to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee where medics found he had a brain injury they thought “unsurvivable”.

He was placed on life support but was found to be brain dead the following morning and his ventilator was switched off.

Witness Sandra Tulloch, 40, earlier said she thought the driver of the Jeep was an “idiot” for overtaking her as she rode her bike near the crest of the hill.

Low-Mitchell confirmed to cops that she was driving the Jeep Cherokee towing the horsebox at the time of the crash.

When she was cautioned she said: “I just remember this little blue car coming very fast. There’s a bit of a hill but he seemed to be going very fast in the middle of the road.”

Low-Mitchell, 83, of Balcormo Farm, Balcormo, Leven, Fife, denies a charge of causing death by careless driving on indictment.

The crash occurred on the A916 near Craigrothie, Fife, on November 13 2013.

The trial, before Sheriff Alistair Carmichael and a jury of 11 men and four women, continues.