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Sad song on radio led grieving sister to crash into van

May Wilson
May Wilson

A grieving dinner lady has been allowed to keep her licence after a piece of music led to her causing a head-on collision with a van.

May Wilson “momentarily” lost concentration while driving along the A947 after a poignant song came on the radio which reminded her of her dead sister.

In a matter of seconds, while the music distracted her, her Vauxhall Astra veered onto the opposite side of the road before crashing into an oncoming Ford Transit van.

The driver of the other vehicle had to be cut free and both he and Wilson had to be taken to hospital to be treated for their injuries.

The 58-year-old appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court and admitted driving without due care and attention on July 9, 2018 at King Edward.

Fiscal depute Felicity Merson explained that Wilson had been heading north on the stretch at around 4.10pm, but had been caught in a 40mph line of traffic behind a slow-moving tractor.

At the same time, a man had been driving a Ford Transit travelling in the opposite direction and at a similar speed.

Mrs Merson said: “She drifted into the other carriageway and he attempted to move to the verge but there was no time for him to avoid the head-on collision, causing irreparable damage to both vehicles.

“As a result of the impact, the accused’s car spun 180-degrees and came to rest on the verge, and the van was shunted from the carriageway.”

Other drivers sprang into action to help the pair, while emergency servicers arrived on the scene shortly after.

The man had to be cut free from the van and was taken by ambulance to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) for serious injuries, while Wilson was transported to a community hospital then to Dr Gray’s in Elgin for treatment.

Investigators initially believed Wilson had caused the crash by attempting to overtake some of the vehicles stuck behind the tractor.

At first, she was charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving – something she denied during a court hearing last August.

But defence advocate Gavin Anderson said his team had been able to persuade investigators to re-examine the evidence and speak to witnesses once more during lockdown, and Wilson’s charge was amended.

He said his client had been heading home to Banff after running an errand in Aberdeen.

“Sixteen days prior to the collision her older sister died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack while in Spain,” he said.

“Her remains were still in Spain and Wilson was in the throes of understandable upset.

“She was under no pressure of time to return and it would otherwise have been an unremarkable journey.

“She recalls hearing a song on the car radio which had a particular significance to her late sister and this caused her some upset.

“She has no memory of the collision itself but it is clear that her attention must have lapsed from the road.”

Mr Anderson referenced dash-cam footage recorded by a bus, which was directly behind Wilson in the queue of traffic. It showed just a two-second window where the Astra appeared out of control.

He said this brief timeframe would not have allowed anyone to react fast enough, adding: “This was evidently an inescapable accident.”

The court heard Wilson, a school catering assistant, has not driven further than Elgin or Banff since the crash two years ago and still carries “sincere regret” that she was responsible for it.

Sheriff Graham Buchanan fined Wilson, of Malcom Road, £800 and imposed six penalty points on her driving licence.

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