Driver caused the death of Ethan Waller after being blinded by the sun

A DRIVER whose momentary lapse of concentration caused the death of his friend will be punished for the rest of his life, a court heard.

Ethan Waller, 22, died on July 18 last year after the car he was travelling in collided with a stationary truck in Burnhope, County Durham.

The driver, Martin Savory, appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court this week where he pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

The 47-year-old said that a day doesn’t go by where he does not think of his dear friend or the incident which occurred.

Lesley Burgess, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was driving with two passengers in his Dacia Sandero, one was Ethan Waller, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, the other was a female who was sitting in the rear.

“There was a stationary truck parked on the left hand side of the road and essentially what has happened is a collision. The vehicle has gone into the back of the truck and sadly Ethan has died as a result of his injuries.”

A statement read out during the hearing from Mr Waller’s mother said: “I have raised my two sons alone in our family home for 17 years.

“Ethan was a happy child who loved days out with us and his friends.

“He started working at a restaurant when he was 15 and passed his driving test when he was 18, he always drove carefully.

“He had a large presence in our house and I really miss his cheeky smile and the way he said Mam.

“He helped me a lot, giving me advice and helping me with my phone. He was in his third year of studying for a degree in History of Art with the Open University.

“I keep thinking of things I want to tell him but it’s too late. I’m never going to hear him again.

“I will miss how he was and his brother will have a long time without him. I can’t listen to CDs anymore because he would always ask who it was and I feel empty all of the time.

“I want the world to stop because it’s not fair that Ethan is not in it anymore.”

An officer from the National Probation Service said: “Mr Savory accepts that he should have stopped driving because he could not see because of the sun. He will have to live with that for the rest of his life.

“He has a long history of drug use, since he was 20-years-old. He tells me he had taken Heroin the day before and the day after the collision. His mother sadly passed away the week before the incident and I think it may be a way of dealing with trauma for him.

“His drug use is sporadic but it has been a factor in his life for the last 27 years.”

Gina Buckley, representing Savory, said her client had been friends with Mr Waller for approximately two years after they met whilst working at neighbouring factories.

She said: “My client does not have any drug issues at present but he is a long-standing recreational user.

“He offers his deepest condolences to the deceased’s family.

“On that particular day the plan was for the three of them to attend a local public house and that is where they were heading when the collision occurred.

“He was not driving over the speed limit but he does accept that he was momentarily blinded by the sun.

“He had no drugs or alcohol in his system and he immediately called the emergency services and went to assist Mr Waller. It was only at the hospital that he was told that he had passed away.

“There is never a day that goes by that he does not think about his friend and the incident that has occurred, he will be punished for the rest of his life knowing that he caused the death of his dear friend.

“This was a momentary lapse of concentration, he was blinded by the sun and did not see the vehicle parked on the side of the road.”

District Judge Helen Cousins said the case was clearly an “absolute tragedy.”

Adding: “The statement from Ethan’s mother, Mrs Waller, was very moving and my heart goes out to you, no parent should have to bury a child, particularly a young man who had his whole life before him.

“I have seen a lot from Mr Savory, he is clearly remorseful and consumed with guilt.

“His employer tells me he is an extremely hard working employee who is very loyal.

“I have heard of his personal circumstances and make no mistake I understand that Mr Savory will have to live with this for the rest of his life.

“I accept this was a tragic accident. I accept that the sun was low as you were coming over the brow of the hill, there is a witness behind you who says exactly the same thing.

“There are no aggravating features, his blood was tested and there were no drugs in his system.

“There was a loader parked in an unexpected place. The lapse was momentary, but it was too late for Ethan.”

Savory, of Delves Lane, Consett, was given a 12 month community order with a requirement to complete 100 hours of unpaid work. He was also given a curfew for 12 weeks between 9pm and 6am and he must pay £85 costs and £124 victim surcharge.

The Northern Echo | Durham