September 30, 2021 1.58 pm This story is over 26 months old

Man left with brain injury after HGV driver, 70, crashed during ‘sneezing fit at the wheel’

He was travelling at 58mph

A 45-year-man has been left with a brain injury, memory loss, and is blind in one eye after a crash caused by a driver suffering a sneezing fit at the wheel on the A1 near Newark.

Colin Shaw, 70, was driving a heavy goods vehicle and had it on cruise control when he hit the back of a Citroen van at 56mph at around 8.50am on May 10, 2018.

It resulted in Steven Hurst suffering a serious head injury that left him in hospital for two weeks. Steven, of Ordsall, Retford, suffered skull and facial fractures including a broken jaw and fractured skull, bleeding behind his right eye and a brain injury.

As a result, he suffered loss of eyesight in one eye and now suffers from memory loss more than three years on from the crash.

Shaw, of The Drive, Bingley, Bradford, pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He appeared at Nottingham Crown Court on September 28, 2021 and has been sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 15 months.

He was also banned from driving for two years and ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work, abide by a curfew for six months and to take an extended retest.

Shaw told police during his interview he reacted too late after suffering a sneezing fit. However, he accepted that traffic was visible for up to half a mile and that he should have applied the brakes before the sneezes came on.

During his police interview, Shaw explained how he had travelled along the road before and how he began to sneeze, and then looked up and heard a bang as he hit the victim’s stationary van in front of him.

He admitted that he didn’t understand why he only applied his brakes at the last minute and couldn’t understand why he had perceived the road differently to everyone else.

Steven’s family have now spoken of their heartbreak after their lives changed forever.

After the sentencing, his family said: “We urge everyone to remain focused whilst they are driving, especially when driving vehicles of this size as any lack of concentration for any length of time can cause catastrophic consequences and change a family’s life forever as we have sadly come to know over the last three years.

“The collision changed our lives and we as a family urge all road users to pay attention on the roads ”

Case investigator Sophie Law, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “It’s the responsibility of every driver to ensure the safety of themselves and other road users.

“Shaw could see traffic up ahead of him but failed to read the road correctly. This had devastating consequences for the van driver he ploughed into.

“We urge drivers to take care on the roads at all times, to avoid devastating incidents such as this from happening.”