Highlands & Islands

Driver describes A9 crash that claimed Wick teacher's life

A teacher has told the High Court in Inverness of an A9 crash in Caithness that claimed a colleague's life.

Elizabeth Wheeler, 31, from Edinburgh, said she tried to swerve to avoid a campervan she said was on her side of the road in August last year.

Her passenger, Dr Kevin Costello, a principal teacher of science at Wick High School, died in the smash.

The campervan's driver Marc Combe, 61, from France, denies driving dangerously and causing Dr Costello's death.

Ms Wheeler was giving evidence on the first day of Mr Combe's trial.

She told the court that she had secured a new job in the US on the day of the crash on a bend in the A9 at Weydale.

'Flipped over'

The chemistry teacher said: "It all happened so fast. I don't know if I had time for any thought processes, I just reacted.

"I pulled the steering wheel to the right because there was more road there and ditch on our side. I must have thought I could get round it.

"But there was an instant collision. I didn't recognise it as a campervan, just a blue and white object. There was an impact and the car flipped over. I saw grass instead of sky. I could feel my weight hanging in the seat belt and I didn't know if I was upside down."

Ms Wheeler said she found herself trapped and alone in her car. She shouted Dr Wheeler's name but had got no response.

Ewan Dillon, 36, from Durham, was living in nearby Halkirk at the time and was one of the first on the scene.

He said Ms Wheeler was upside down inside her car but said he was unable to do much to help her because of the extent of the damage to the vehicle.

Mr Dillon next saw Mr Combe getting out of his campervan.

The physics surveyor said: "He was very shaken and upset and wanted to do anything to help. I gave him a hug to comfort him."

The trial continues.

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