A woman who survived when her friend was killed by an elderly motorist who hit the accelerator instead of the brake says she wishes she had been the one who died in the crash.
Sarah Taylor, 55, says there isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t think of her friend Jeanette Newman who was killed when William Heagren, 87, reversed into the pair in a Sainsbury’s car park.
Jeanette never regained consciousness and died following the accident.
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Sarah went through Mr Heagren’s windscreen and suffered a stroke 36 hours after the May 2018 accident.
Mr Heagren was jailed for 27 months but died nine days after he was sentenced in December 2019.
Despite suffering brain damage that meant she was unable to continue in her job in advertising events, insurer Admiral is still refusing to give Sarah enough interim payments to help her recover three years after the crash.
The company claims the accident did not cause her stroke.
MyLondon has contacted Admiral for a response, but representatives had not replied by the time this article was published.
Speaking for the first time since the accident in May 2018, she said: “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.”
Sarah was staying with Jeanette when they went to get food for a barbecue at Sainsbury’s in South Ruislip in May 2018.
They were walking back to Jeanette’s car when Mr Heagren reversed into them at almost 20mph.
Sarah added: “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.
“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.”
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Despite her injuries, Sarah says she never had any ill-feeling towards Mr Heagren, but claims her recovery has been hampered because Mr Heagren’s insurance company Admiral is refusing to acknowledge that her stroke came as a result of the crash.
She said: “The ripple effect of that sliding doors moment when he decided to get behind the wheel of his car was 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.”
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Laura Swaine, a specialist catastrophic injury specialist at London law firm Osbornes Law, which is 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.”
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