Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Army Driver Caused Crash When He Was Told to Do a U-Turn; Confusion on Truck Almost Proved Fatal

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Army Driver Caused Crash When He Was Told to Do a U-Turn; Confusion on Truck Almost Proved Fatal

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Tully

AN Army truck driver towing a two-ton field gun did a U-turn on a busy North road - because he was under orders from his commanding officer.

But as David Connor manoeuvred the heavy truck and gun across the A69 near Hexham in darkness, a car careered into the camouflaged gun.

Richard Mottram, 47, of Shotton Colliery, Durham, had to be cut out of the wreckage and rushed to hospital with all his left ribs fractured, plus head lacerations, concussion, a knee injury and massive bruising.

Mr Mottram, a plant hire driver, has since been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and is still off work and receiving weekly counselling, six months after the smash. He told Tynedale magistrates yesterday: "I remember shutting my eyes and thinking: 'That's it - I've gone here'."

But miraculously, he survived the August crash and after Connor appeared in court, Mr Mottram said: "I feel he has taken the rap when it should have been the two of them in court. The other bloke's the CO, after all."

He added: "A foot either way and I would have had it. I saw the stars in the sky and thought I was dead."

Connor, 44, a TA volunteer, of Widnes, Cheshire, was cleared of dangerous driving a but convicted of the lesser offence of careless driving. He was fined pounds 400, with pounds 200 costs, and given seven penalty points.

The court heard that Staff Sgt Tim Davis had ordered Connor to do a U-turn on the eastbound A69 more than a mile west of Hexham after wrongly believing they had missed the A68 turning to their destination, Otterburn Camp in north Northumberland. The route card given to them on leaving Jubilee Barracks in St Helens, Cheshire, did not include the new roundabout at Haydon Bridge, leaving Sgt Davis "confused".

Connor said he told Sgt Davis they needed to continue east as far as Hexham, but told the court: "I was given an order. In the Army, it's a decision of a vehicle commander who has the route card.

"What should I have done? …

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