Horror accident left driver close to death

FORMER Woodbridge School pupil Charlie Pipe does not remember the moment her life was turned upside down when she had an accident on the A14 and broke her back.

Richard Smith

FORMER Woodbridge School pupil Charlie Pipe does not remember the moment her life was turned upside down when she had an accident on the A14 and broke her back.

Her car hit a tree in wet weather and the 19-year-old had to be cut out of her black Renault Clio before being taken to hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

She was later transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, and today she is still recovering from her injuries at her home in Boyton, near Woodbridge, while her friends are enjoying university life.

Police officers told Charlie, who cannot recall the seven days following the crash, that she was lucky to be alive after the horrific accident.

They have also told her family that up to 12 other drivers have had similar experiences in wet weather on the stretch of road east of the Rookery Crossroads at Rougham and they too had “aquaplaned”.

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Charlie's parents, Pat and Richard Pipe, are calling for an investigation into the design of the road network at the Rookery crossroads - which had a major improvement programme 18 months ago.

They believe there could be a design problem which could put other drivers at risk in poor weather conditions.

The accident occurred on August 7 when Charlie, who also attended Farlingaye High School, Woodbridge, was driving home from her flat in Nottingham where she is studying psychology with criminology at Nottingham Trent University.

In heavy rain at about 9pm Charlie lost control of her car just before the Rougham Farms Bridge.

The Renault collided with a tree, the vehicle was damaged beyond repair and Charlie sustained a catalogue of injuries.

She broke her right wrist and her right shoulder. She also broke her back and is wearing a brace until November and doctors hope that, because of her young age, it will eventually heal itself.

Charlie said: “Because I do not remember the accident then it does not scare me what happened. The week afterwards when I was in a bad way, I don't remember that either.”

She added: “The reason I am highlighting my accident is that I do not want to feel guilty if something happened to someone else. Police officers said I was lucky to be alive and somebody else may not be.

“Police officers have said that my car got lifted by the water and that it aquaplaned and it somehow became airborne and hit a tree.

“They also said there was nothing else I could have done and the car coped very well, and in a different car I may not have been here today. It scares me that this could happen to someone else and they could die.”

Mrs Pipe said: “Basically, this road needs to be sorted out. I think it is to do with the drainage and I think there must be a design fault because when you have these huge downpours of rain, which we do get now, the rain is sitting on the road and not running off. It was definitely water that caused Charlie's accident.

“The police officers have been very supportive. I was told by one officer that there was still water on the road when he arrived and basically Charlie did not stand a hope.

“She would not have seen the water and once her car hit it there was nothing she could do to control it.

“Police said other people had come off the new stretch of road and there had been problems ever since the new junction had been put in.

“I got the impression there was no one else as serious as Charlie but on that same day a young lad had come off the road.”

Bill Vaudrey, who runs the village shop at Alderton, near Woodbridge, also “aquaplaned” only 10 minutes before Charlie's accident at the same location.

Mr Vaudrey said yesterday: “There were two or three sites where water stood. There were lakes of water on the road and I am surprised that there were not many other accidents.”

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