Driver admits causing crash which killed city OAP

Emergency services at the scene of the crash in West Barnes, Dunbar. Pic: Jane Barlow
Emergency services at the scene of the crash in West Barnes, Dunbar. Pic: Jane Barlow
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A DRIVER caused the death of a pensioner when his vehicle struck a bus that the former serviceman had been travelling on, a court has heard.

Colin Snell, 69, failed to stop at a give way sign at junction on the A1087 road near Dunbar, East Lothian, on September 18 2013.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how Mr Snell travelled onto the road and struck the bus causing it to strike a nearby cottage.

The force of the collision caused Alexander Shiell, 79, to be thrown from his seat and strike a handrail before landing on the aisle.

Mr Shiell, who once served with the Royal Air Force, died from his injuries at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary hospital in February 2014.

The story emerged on Tuesday when Mr Snell, of Cockburnspath, Berwickshire, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a charge of causing the death of Mr Shiell, of East Linton, East Lothian, by driving without undue care and attention.

Depute procurator fiscal Graeme Jessop told Sheriff Thomas Welsh that the collision happened at 10.13am when road conditions were good.

Mr Jessop told the court that Mr Snell was with his wife Patricia when he drove his grey Vauxhall Antara car through a ‘give way’ sign at Shore Road onto Edinburgh Road.

Mr Jessop added: “As the bus approached the junction with Shore Road, the accused’s motor car failed to stop at the give way line at the junction and continued onto Edinburgh Road and collided with the front offside of the bus.

“As a result of the collision, the bus veered off to the left and struck Benston Cottage where it came to rest imbedded in the brickwork.

“Such was the impact that Alexander Shiell was thrown from his seat, whereby he apparently collided with a handrail within the bus prior to landing on the aisle near to the driver sustaining life threatening injuries.

“Another vehicle was travelling eastbound on Edinburgh Road at the time. The driver of the vehicle witnessed the collision but was able to avoid the collision and stop.

“The emergency services were contacted.

“Police vehicles, several ambulances, three fire appliances and three further specialist fire and rescue support vehicles attended the scene.

“The ambulance personnel attended to the injured parties.”

Mr Jessop said that the bus driver Mark Gray, 40, and a number of passengers including Mr Shiell received medical treatment or were taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

In November 2013, the court heard how Mr Snell attended Dalkeith police station with his solicitor to be interviewed by police officers about the incident.

Mr Jessop said: “When interviewed he advised he had picked up his wife from the swimming pool at Dunbar and was intending to drive to Dunfermline.

“He stated that he had travelled along Shore Road twice before and was not that familiar with the area. However, he was familiar with the give way junction at the crossroads and the relevant signs and markings.

“He was asked whether he had seen the bus and replied ‘when it hit me yes.’ He elected to make no further comment.”

The court heard that accident investigators established Mr Snell was to blame for the collision.

The court also heard that in the months following the collision, Mr Shiell’s health worsened. He developed pneumonia and he passed away at 11.30am on February 5, 2014.

Speaking about Mr Sheill, Mr Jessop said: “Alexander Dodds Shiells was born on June 18, 1935. He was 79 years old when he died. He was brought up and educated in Edinburgh.

“He completed five years service as an aircraft technician with the RAF.

“On completion of this service, he undertook a number of jobs on farms in East Lothian before securing a position at Standing Stone Farm in Traprain where he spent 30 years working on the farm.

“He was married in 1961 and had one daughter and a stepdaughter.

“An autopsy took place on February 11, 2014 which established that the cause of Alexander Shiell’s death was bronchopneumonia following treatment of multiple injuries sustained as a passenger in a road traffic incident together with ischaemic and hypertensive heart disease.”

The court also heard that Mr Snell wanted to express his ‘sincere condolences’ to Mr Shiell’s family for the loss of their loved one.

Sheriff Welsh deferred sentence on Snell in order for the court to obtain reports about his character.

He will be sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on January 19, 2015.