Crash victim fury at driver who caused injuries

Struan Bennett in hospital. Picture: contributed
Struan Bennett in hospital. Picture: contributed
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A TEENAGER seriously injured in a car crash after his friend slammed the vehicle into a tree while speeding today said his life had been “ruined”.

Struan Bennett was rescued through the sunroof of the wrecked car and suffered a cracked vertebrae in his spine, several broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung.

The 17-year-old said his injuries forced him to leave school and abandon a career in the army, while the ­ordeal has left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Struan, who said he was lucky to escape with his life, blames driver Nicholas Ness for his “dangerous, stupid, cocky” actions behind the wheel.

The teenager said Ness, 19, only texted him with a “very poor” apology six weeks after the crash, adding: “I will never forgive him.”

Ness was banned from driving for two years and fined £600 at Haddington Sheriff Court earlier this month after admitting speeding and overtaking a friend’s car on a sweeping bend on the A6137 Haddington to Aberlady road in East Lothian.

Backseat passenger Struan and a 13-year-old girl, who was the front passenger, were injured in the collision on November 3 last year

Struan, who lives in Athelstaneford, East Lothian, said: “I don’t have a memory of being in the car because of the blow to my head. But I still wake up from nightmares where I hear [the 13-year-old girl] screaming.

“[The girl] told me she saw the speedometer at 95mph while Nick was driving. He had been revving the engine and overtook a friend’s car who had four passengers with him.

“The car went straight into a tree without braking, causing the car to be airborne then roll down into a ditch. My friend in the other car pulled me out through the sunroof. I was unconscious and only woke up in the hospital the next day.”

Struan, a sixth year pupil at North Berwick High School, spent six days being treated at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, two of them in intensive care, and doctors feared he might require brain surgery to treat a blood clot.

He said: “Fortunately I didn’t need the brain surgery but I had to spend the next two months bed-bound ­because of the pain in my back. I’m on strong painkillers and the back pain may last the rest of my life.

“I missed too much school to try and sit my Highers so I had to leave. I can resit my sixth year but I don’t think I can do it after the accident.

“I’ve been a different person since the crash. Before I was a very happy, cheerful, social person but now I’m sad and depressed and scared to go out.

“I’d been planning to join the army after doing work experience with them. Because of my injuries I can longer serve and I haven’t a clue what to with my life now.”

Struan, who has seven brothers and two sisters, added: “I’m lucky to be alive but I feel that my life’s been ruined. I do blame Nick for what has happened. It was his dangerous stupid, cocky driving which nearly got us all killed.

“I’m just glad he was banned for two years so there’s one less dangerous driver on the road. Nick has never properly apologised. He sent me a text six weeks after the crash which said, ‘I’m sorry I left it this long and I have no excuse to you. I don’t know what to say, I guess sorry does it’. I felt that was very poor, not really an ­apology. I’ll never forgive him for what he did.”

The crash took place just three weeks before three teenagers lost their lives at nearby Tyninghame after a Peugeot 206 they were travelling in smashed into a wall.

Jenna Barbour, 18, Josh Stewart, 16, and David ­Armstrong, 15, died at the scene on November 25.