THE family of a grandmother who died following a minibus crash have described ‘the weight off their shoulders’ after the taxi firm boss who was driving admitted causing her death.
Ruth Ramsell, from Midway, died in hospital in February, five weeks after the minibus in which she was a passenger crashed into another vehicle on a snowcovered South Derbyshire road.
Jimmy Fitzpatrick, owner of Hartshorne-based Jimmy’s Private Hire, for whom the 52-year-old worked escorting disabled children to school, admitted causing her death by careless driving in a hearing at Derby Crown Court yesterday.
Mrs Ramsell’s daughter, Kirsty Cox, welcomed Fitzpatrick’s guilty plea but said the family faced an emotional Christmas as the one-year anniversary of the crash approached.
She told Burton Mail:
“We were expecting him to plead not guilty so it was a bit of a shock but obviously we’re quite happy with that.
“It’s a big weight lifted off our shoulders and we will be able to finally put mum to rest without anything else hanging over us.
Fitzpatrick, who was returning from dropping off youngsters at a school in Long Eaton, was driving the minibus on the A514 near Swarkestone Bridge in blizzard-like conditions when it collided with a BMW on January 7.
The court heard he had not been exceeding the speed limit but had been driving too fast for the conditions, while his speed accounted for the greater part of the combined 64mph impact speed of the two vehicles, as calculated by accident investigators.
Steven Coupland, prosecuting, told the court: “We are not suggesting the defendant was driving at a grossly excessive speed, simply that he was going too fast for the layout of the road and the conditions at the time.
“The other driver had started to brake and slow down but Fitzpatrick was in no position to brake and slow down.”
Ian Bridge, defending, said: “We would accept that the balance of speed was coming from our (Fitzpatrick’s) direction and that he was driving inappropriately in the circumstances, but the real cause of the collision is the fact that snow was covering the road.”
Fitzpatrick, 66, of Elmsdale Road, Hartshorne, was bailed to reappear at the same court for sentencing on Friday, January 20, pending the completion of medical reports, and issued with an interim driving ban.
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