Trial Hears From Rhoose Crash Witnesses
14 May 2014, 16:00
A lollipop lady used her body as a human shield "out of instinct" to protect children being mowed down by an out-of-control car, a court has heard.
Uniformed Karin Williams, 50, was helping young children cross the road when an Audi car crashed into them outside their school.
Cardiff magistrates heard she bravely stepped in front of the car with her lollipop sign to take the impact - and tried to save five children injured in the crash.
Driver Robert Bell, 62, had been coughing at the wheel moments before veering across the road. His car flipped over on speed bump outside the primary school.
The court heard how his car sent young children "cartwheeling through the air" and inches from death at 8.50am during the school run crash.
Married mother-of-one Karin - a lollipop lady for ten years - told how she heard a "revving noise" and saw Bell gripping the wheel with his eyes wide open seconds before the crash.
She said: "I was at the crossing when all of a sudden I looked to my left and I saw a dark car coming towards me at speed. "It was on the wrong side of the road and collided with a bollard. It was very close to me.
"I remember seeing the driver's eyes were wide open and gripping his hands tight on the steering wheel. It was all happening so fast. "I was shouting something to warn the kids and moved in their direction out of instinct.
"The next thing I remember is being underneath the car and feeling a sharp pain."
Five children and four adults were injured in the crash outside the primary school in Rhoose, South Wales, last June.
Karin was left with broken legs, elbow, shoulder and ribs in the crash outside the school gates. She spent ten weeks in hospital recovering from her injuries.
Four girls and a boy aged between five and ten were injured - including a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain and broken bones.
One girl aged ten spent three days on a life support machine and has undergone a series of operations - and still doesn't have use of her left arm.
Witnesses to the crash heard a "horrendous bang" as the car ploughed into the group of parents and children.
One mum told police:
"It was chaos. Parents and children were screaming.
"The black car had been travelling at normal speed but then suddenly there was a revving noise. At the same time it veered across the road, flipped over and slid on its roof."
The court heard children were left in "pools of blood" after being mowed down.
Retired computer consultant Bell, of Fontygarry, Vale of Glamorgan, denies driving without due care and attention.
He told police he cannot remember how the crash happened. Witnesses saw him crawl out of the upside-down car "dazed and covered in blood."
He was heard to ask: "Did I do anything wrong? Was it my fault? Please tell me if I was speeding. Please tell me the truth."
The court heard from a witness that Mr Bell had been coughing heavily just before the accident at Rhws Junior School in Rhoose, Vale of Glamorgan.
Prosecutor Lisa Jones said: "No-one but Mr Bell caused the car to veer across the road.
"A competent driver wouldn't have driven the car that way. The real issue is whether he is responsible for the manner of the driving.
"He says he had no control because he was unconscious or unaware at the time."
The trial at Cardiff magistrates court continues.