Diabetic driver blames low blood sugar for cyclist’s death

A court has heard how a diabetic driver could not remember how she “ploughed” into two cyclists when her blood sugar was low in an accident near Croft, Darlington.

Maureen Henderson, a former policewoman who died recently, drove into two cyclists and carried on driving following the collision. 72-year-old Norman Fay of South Shields died in the accident in June 2008, and John Stephenson suffered serious injuries to his neck and leg.

Mr Fay’s children have questioned the circumstances of their father’s death, leading to the hearing at Chester-le-Street Magistrates’ Court. Ms Henderson, who was from Newton Aycliffe, was not prosecuted following the crash.
“Carried on down the road…”

On the day of the accident, the two cyclists had set out on a ride to York when they were hit by 69-year-old Ms Henderson’s Citroen C5. Paul Cook, who was travelling in the opposite direction, witnessed the accident and told the inquest that the car “didn’t really hit them, it just ploughed straight through them. They were obviously thrown into the air and that was about it,” (The Northern Echo, 2009).

“The car passed me, the windscreen was smashed, and it carried on down the road,” Mr Cook reported (The Northern Echo, 2009). Ms Henderson’s car came to a stop on a grass verge 400 yards on from the scene.

Ms Henderson had battled with diabetes for 20 years, and was dependent on regular injections of insulin. That day, Ms Henderson had visited the Co-op undertakers in Newton Aycliffe surrounding the funeral arrangements of her late mother.

During an interview with CID officers, Ms Henderson stated she had taken her insulin, and eaten a bowl of cornflakes. She recalled no details of the accident until she found herself lying on the grass verge outside her car.
Low blood glucose levels

A report submitted from Newcastle Diabetes Centre stated experts were in to doubt “that Ms Henderson had suffered impairment to her mental faculties because of her low blood glucose levels,” which were reported to be about half the minimum level for healthy function (The Northern Echo, 2009).

It was found that Ms Henderson had breached DVLA rules, as they were unaware of her illness. Durham Coroner Andrew Tweddle recorded Mr Fay’s death as accidental.

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