Tania Chikwature, 32, was locked up for 26 weeks at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court today (Monday) after admitting being more than three times the drink drive limit when she crashed on the A605 near the Haddon services on December 12.
Her young son was shaken but did not suffer serious injuries in the crash.
Having overtaken a lorry on the wrong side of solid white lines near to Haddon Services, she failed to negotiate the roundabout, launching her car about 15 feet in the air, before landing on its roof on the far side of the roundabout, colliding with the crash barrier and coming to a stop about 50 metres further up the road.
Members of the public went to their aid and pulled the toddler, who was hanging upside down in his car seat, out of the wreckage.
Police and ambulance attended and Chikwature refused to provide a routine breath sample.
Four and three-quarter hours later in hospital, a blood sample was taken which showed 156 milligrams of alcohol in Chikwature’s blood - the legal limit is 80.
Due to the amount of time that had passed since the collision, investigators requested a back-calculation was carried out by the forensic laboratory in order to accurately reflect the true alcohol levels at the time of the collision. The results came back with 246 milligrams of alcohol in her blood - more than three times the legal limit.
PC David Tudman, from the Beds, Cambs and Herts Road Policing Unit (RPU), said: “Chikwature showed complete disregard for the safety and welfare of her child and other road users in her manner of driving. It is pure luck that nobody was killed that day.
“This should serve as a warning to all motorists to highlight the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol; and to do so whilst in charge of a child is utterly irresponsible.”
Chikwature appeared at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court today (Monday, April 10) after pleading guilty to dangerous driving and driving while under the influence of alcohol at a hearing last month. She was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of Â£115.
Dash-cam footage from the lorry Chikwature was overtaking shows the shocking ordeal of the collision.
Below is extracts from a witness statement provided by the lorry driver Chikwature was overtaking:
“I am a heavy goods vehicle driver and I was on a run from Newport to Wisbech. I have held a full UK licence for 35 years, an HGV licence for 22 years and I was also in the fire service for 15 years with a qualified Emergency Fire Appliance Driving status.
“On the day of the collision the road surface was dry, the traffic was light, there wasn’t anything unusual or out of the ordinary. I was travelling along the A605 and the road had just gone from dual carriageway to single carriageway at the brow of a hill.
“The road then has double white lines prohibiting overtaking. The road markings were clear and apart from an HGV in front I had an excellent view of the road ahead.
“The first point I became aware something was wrong was when I checked my mirror as I was approaching the roundabout outside Peterborough services. I could see a car on the wrong side of the double white lines overtaking me at speed and I thought “what are you doing?”.
“I then had to brake more than I would have to make sure the car had space to get in before the roundabout. This is not ideal as I was coming downhill and in worst case scenario this can jack-knife the lorry. In the video you can see the car cut in front of me, this was a lot closer in real life than it looks. The car seemed out of control and with the speed it came past me I knew it wasnââ‚¬™t making the roundabout.
“I saw the car veer right and mount the concrete island before the roundabout about halfway along. The car was completely out of control and went straight into the roundabout straight on where it launched into the air, I remember thinking as it went in the air they’re not going to make it.
“As the car hit the roundabout I hit the auto emergency services button on my phone as I knew we would need them, I thought I was witnessing a fatal road accident. It must have been 12 to 14 feet in the air, it cleared the roundabout, hitting a tree as it flew over it and seemed to land on its roof on the far side.
“I negotiated the roundabout and could see utter devastation, I had been to numerous fatal collisions in my time with the fire service. I was certain this was one. Using my experience as an emergency driver I pulled my lorry across the roundabout exit to protect the scene.
“After completing the call to the emergency services I went to the car. There was a man pulling a young child from the wreckage, the child was crying and was very shocked. The car was totally destroyed and on its roof, the only other occupant was crumpled with her feet in the driver’s side and her body leaning back between the two front seats. She was talking to another bystander who was helping.
“At no point did she ask after the welfare of the child or refer to him. In the 32 years I have been driving this is one of the most dangerous pieces of driving I have ever witnessed, I see stuff on the road every day, but nothing this bad. What I witnessed fell far below what I would expect of a reasonable and competent driver, it was dangerous and stupid. I am upset that this was done with the child in the car, it was irresponsible.”