Learner driver’s pedal mix-up left 91-year-old bleeding and bruised
- Credit: Archant � 2007
A confused learner driver lost control of her car and collided with a 91-year-old pedestrian after mistaking the accelerator for the brake.
The crash, which happened in the car park of a Suffolk supermarket last September, left the female pedestrian with an open head wound, extensive bruising to both legs and muscle damage to the right shoulder.
A thumb injury, later discovered as having gone untreated, left her unable to continue playing as a semi-professional pianist, while long term effects included restricted mobility and dependence on strong pain killers.
Following the collision, Reji Thazhathukunnel was charged with driving without due care and attention.
The 40-year-old admitted the offence at Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
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Prosecutor Alex Morrison described how the crash happened in the car park of Aldi, in Haverhill, on the afternoon of Monday, September 17.
He said Thazhathukunnel was behind the wheel of an automatic Nissan Micra, under supervision as a learner driver, when she depressed the accelerator instead of the brake at 12.19pm.
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The Nissan collided with the 91-year-old pedestrian, her son’s parked car and another parked car, explained Mr Morrison.
Both parked vehicles, a blue Ford Fiesta and green Skoda Yeti, suffered bodywork damage.
A large open wound to the pedestrian’s head required 16 surgical staples to close.
Mr Morrison said weather conditions were fine and dry at the time.
Thazhathukunnel, of Dalham Place, Haverhill, had been driving on a clean provisional licence.
When asked if she had anything to say about the incident, Thazhathukunnel replied: “It was my mistake.
“Instead of braking, I pressed the gas. I thought I was braking, but I accelerated.”
She maintained that the collision was not the result of neglecting to pay attention, but conceded that, as a learner, her driving had been below the standard of a competent road user.
Thazhathukunnel’s provisional driving licence was endorsed with six penalty points.
She was fined £255 and ordered to pay £100 towards the cost of prosecution, along with a £30 statutory fee towards victim services.