Stevenage family’s heartache after death crash driver flees to Turkey
PUBLISHED: 08:30 27 February 2020
The family of a senior paramedic killed when her motorbike was involved in a crash have spoken out about their continued fight for justice 18 months after her death.
Vicky Lovelace-Collins was riding her motorcycle when she was involved in a collision with a car just yards from her home in Stevenage's Lonsdale Road in September 2018.
Police and paramedics rushed to the scene at the junction with Webb Rise and Vicky, 37, was airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.
Vicky's wife, Naomi, said: "I had driven into our road, coming home from work, as it all unfolded. I went into the house and shouted, 'there's something going on outside, you might be needed'. I didn't put two and two together and realise it was her."
Eventually, there was a knock at her door and Naomi was told Vicky had been hurt.
"They said I should pack a bag and go with them to the hospital," Naomi recalled. "I got some things together, like Vicky's toothbrush, and went with them."
But as Naomi sat in the back of a police car travelling at high speed with its lights flashing and sirens blaring, she knew something was desperately wrong.
Vicky was critically injured and died two days later.
"It's all the more devastating to know how close she was to home," Naomi said.
As Vicky's family struggled to process what had happened, they were told by police that the driver of the car involved had fled to Turkey.
"She went the day after Vicky died," Naomi said. "She wasn't considered a flight risk because she had built a life here with her husband and children and had a job locally."
The driver remains in Turkey to this day.
Naomi said: "There's a common misconception that the case must be resolved, we have closure and are moving on. That's not even close to the truth. Our lives are on hold."
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The tragic case bears striking similarities to the high profile Harry Dunn case. The 19-year-old was riding his motorcycle in Northamptonshire when it collided head-on with a Volvo. The driver, Anne Sacoolas, is the wife of a US government employee and fled to America claiming diplomatic immunity.
Vicky's mum, Wendy, said: "Harry Dunn's case has all the publicity and my daughter's hasn't, and I find that quite hurtful. It's a more common situation than you might think and I would like to see the law changed, to save other families going through the extradition process.
"We can't move on as a family. Vicky has been taken away from us and we have got a sentence for life."
Wendy has had to deal with unimagineable heartbreak, losing her daughter just 16 weeks after her husband Mick died from leukaemia. "It's a lot to deal with," she said through tears.
Vicky had planned to take her mum to Miami to mark Wendy's first wedding anniversary since Mick's death. "She wanted me to have something to look forward to, so when I looked back it wasn't sad. Little did we know," said Wendy, before trailing off. Wendy still made the trip to Miami and, together with Naomi, scattered Vicky's ashes there.
Vicky and Naomi met in 2008 and married in 2012. A paramedic for 15 years, Vicky was a well-loved, kind-hearted woman who contributed greatly to her community. Wendy said: "Nobody had a bad word to say about her. She wore her heart on her sleeve and was my rock when her dad died."
Naomi added: "She was very caring, and passionate about her job and about saving the NHS. She had worked her way up the career ladder - from emergency medical technician to duty locality officer - and was hugely respected within the East of England Ambulance Service Trust. She was also a mentor to new students and a driving assessor. She had wanted to be a paramedic from a very young age and her career meant a lot to her.
"She was a volunteer with the Refugee Council, was passionate about animal rights and the environment, and stood locally for the Green Party in the 2018 elections. She was an excellent clinician, a volunteer and a humanist.
"Wendy and I have both said we would swap with Vicky in a heartbeat - look what she did for this community.
"She was a wonderfully warm, humourous and kind-hearted woman whose family meant everything to her.
"She was one-of-a-kind with a bright future and many plans, and she has been robbed of that. This community has lost a true inspiration."
This year should have been one of celebration, with Vicky turning 40 and planning a trip of a lifetime with Naomi to New York. Instead, Naomi is consumed by the case. "The wheels are turning slowly and silently," she said, "but the driver needs to be held to account. We just want justice and I will be contacting the Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland to see how he can help."
Naomi, who has weekly counselling from the Road Victims Trust, says she has been told there is a development in the case and, with renewed hope, is awaiting a meeting with the Crown Prosecution Service.
"It won't just get brushed under the carpet," said Naomi with stoic resolve.