A French tourist has admitted causing the death of a Thurso woman in a multiple vehicle crash on one of the busiest roads in the Highlands.
France Lautier was travelling north on a trip to Orkney with her husband and some friends when she veered across the A9 near Dunbeath in Caithness.
She collided with a Jaguar driven by Thurso pensioner Alfred Williams, 72, whose wife Elizabeth was in the passenger seat as they headed south.
The Jaguar struck a wall in the high-impact crash – and Mrs Williams, also 72, was so badly injured that she died.
Yesterday, 64-year-old Lautier appeared at Wick Sheriff Court to admit causing Mrs Williams’s death by careless driving.
The accident happened at Ramscraigs, two-and-a- half miles south of Dunbeath, at about 2pm on June 20 last year.
It was described by fiscal depute Fraser Matheson and relayed to Lautier, whose English is limited, by an interpreter.
The crash happened after Lautier rounded a right-hand bend in her left-hand drive Ford C-Max.
Mr Matheson said that the accused veered over the centre white line, adding: “As a consequence, the front offside of her vehicle struck the rear offside of Mr Williams’ Jaguar.”
“The impact of the two vehicles caused the Jaguar to begin to rotate in a clockwise direction, in the course of which, its front offside collided with the rear of a red Volkswagen Golf which had been travelling immediately behind the accused’s car.”
The fiscal continued: “The Jaguar continued in its motion across the northbound carriageway entering the western verge of the road and colliding with a stone wall there and coming to a rest in a position across the northbound lane.”
The fiscal said that a silver Golf which had been travelling behind the red Golf was unable to avoid colliding with the Jaguar’s nearside .
Mr Matheson said that Mrs Williams, who wearing her seat belt, had died “there and then” as a result of multiple injuries.
He said that although there were multiple vehicles involved in the accident, there was no suggestion of any fault by the other drivers. The driver of the silver Golf could not have avoided colliding with the Jaguar.
Turning to the accident investigation, Mr Matheson said it found there had been no mechanical defects in any of the vehicles involved. The road surface was good and the weather was bright and clear with intermittent spells of light mist.
Mr Matheson added: “There was no suggestion of excessive speed on the part of any of the drivers involved in the collision.”
“The accused was interviewed by police in the early hours of the following morning, with the assistance of an interpreter. Eventually, on the basis of the available evidence there appears to have been no explanation for Lautier’s failure to keep her vehicle in its own lane of the road.”
Sheriff Andrew Berry, who saw a victim statement report prepared by Mrs Williams’ daughter and said to reflect the views of the wider family, deferred sentence until today (Tuesday) for a social work report on Lautier.
Her bail was continued and she was made subject to an interim driving disqualification.
The accused’s change plea change was agreed earlier this month when she indicated her intention to admit on indictment to having caused Mrs Williams’ death by driving carelessly and crossing the centre of the road into the opposing carriageway.