A woman who survived a car accident that killed her friend is still suffering from severe brain damage three years later.
55-year-old Sarah Taylor suffered severe brain damage as a result of the incident, even having a stroke 36 hours after it happened. She is now suing insurance provider, Admiral, who she says is refusing to give her enough interim payments following the crash, claiming her stroke was not caused by the accident.
In May 2018, Sarah and her friend Jeanette Newman were in South Ruislip’s Sainsbury’s car park getting food for a barbecue.
But when they were on their way to Jeanette’s car, they were hit by the vehicle 87-year-old William Heagren, who was reversing out a bay but had mistaken the accelerator for the brake.
Speaking for the first time since the accident, Sarah has revealed her side of the story.
“We were walking to the car when we were hit by a car out of nowhere. I have little recollection of the incident but the CCTV I saw in court shows my head smashing through the back windscreen. I do recall being on the ground and going in and out of consciousness.
“I remember thinking I couldn’t die as nobody would know who I was as I didn’t have a bag or purse on me, and nobody would know I was there. I didn’t feel anything at all but while I was conscious, I remember seeing people’s horrified faces as they saw me and Jeanette on the ground.
Sarah went through the car’s windscreen and would later suffer from brain damage, which has greatly impacted her life, even forcing her to leave her job in advertising events.
“On the surface my injuries didn’t look that bad as I had a gash on my head that needed ten stitches and released the next day. I was then rushed back into hospital with a severe headache and had a stroke in front of the doctors because my vertebral artery was damaged.
“I was lucky to be with medics at the time as time is all important, but I have been left with brain damage that means I just can’t remember things. It’s like somebody has put a light out in my head.”
Sadly, Jeanette never regained consciousness and died following the accident. Sarah misses her friend constantly.
“Every day I think of Jeanette and there have been days that it has been really hard to get through. I wish that it had been me that died. Some days it is just so hard to deal with the trauma of what we went through. Losing her and seeing how the accident has affected my family is just heart-breaking.
“For a year I had nightmares and night terrors that were so bad that my 18-year-old daughter slept with me to make sure I didn’t hurt myself. It has been an extremely tough time to get through.”
Mr Heagren was jailed for 27 months in December 2019 for his part in the incident but died shortly after sentencing. However, despite her injuries, Sarah has never expressed any ill will towards him.
She said: “The ripple effect of that sliding doors moment when he decided to get behind the wheel of his car were horrific. It was a fatal error of judgment to move his car from where his wife had parked it and changed a lot of people’s lives forever.
“There are no winners in this. His family has suffered, mine and Jeanette’s family have suffered. I have never felt any malice towards him, it was a fatal mistake to move his car, but he didn’t intend to harm anybody.
However, Sarah has said her recovery from the incident has been hampered by Mr Heagren’s insurance company, Admiral, refusing to acknowledge her stroke that happened after the accident.
Laura Swaine, a specialist catastrophic injury specialist at by London law firm Osbornes Law, who are representing Sarah, said: “My client suffered the trauma of not only enduring life changing injuries, but also losing a close friend in an accident that was no fault of her own.
“She is desperate to move on with her life and I would urge Mr Heagren’s insurers to have some compassion and provide funding for the rehabilitation and treatment Sarah requires as a result of their insured’s negligence.”
When contacted for a comment, Admiral Group plc has said: “This was a tragic accident and Mrs Taylor and Jeanette Newman’s family have our deepest sympathy.
“We can’t comment on what is an ongoing claim, however we have engaged with Mrs Taylor’s legal team throughout the period since the accident and have made interim payments to help with her rehabilitation.”