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‘Our lives will never be the same again’ - crash victims talk about long-term impact of road accident

PUBLISHED: 14:17 07 February 2017

Jane Souster-Dolby and her partner Bob were badly injured in a car crash last year. Picture: Ian Burt

Jane Souster-Dolby and her partner Bob were badly injured in a car crash last year. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

A couple who suffered devastating injuries in a car crash have told how their lives will never be the same again.

Emergency services at the scene of the crash at the junction of Fakenham Road and Weasenham Road, in whoch Robert Witherford and Jane Souster-Dolby were both injured.Emergency services at the scene of the crash at the junction of Fakenham Road and Weasenham Road, in whoch Robert Witherford and Jane Souster-Dolby were both injured.

Doctors have informed Robert Witherford, 61, who suffered a fractured spine, he will have back problems for the rest of his life.

His partner Jane Souster-Dolby, 50, has been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as back and hip injuries.

They feared losing their dream home in the Norfolk countryside due to financial problems which have been a consequence of the collision.

Miss Souster-Dolby, who runs her own embroidery business, has been unable to work since the crash, which happened at around 5pm on May 12 last year.

An X-ray showing the damage to Robert Witherford's spine.An X-ray showing the damage to Robert Witherford's spine.

Mr Witherford and Miss Souster-Dolby are now telling their story publicly for the first time to give a rare insight into how crashes affect victims in the long term, in the hope that it will encourage motorists to take more care on the roads.

The couple, who have been together for 12 years, moved to Norfolk from Berkshire in July 2015, after buying a house at Godwick - between Fakenham and Dereham.

Mr Witherford said: “My life will never be the same again.

“I suffer pain every day and have to take strong pain killers. I can’t run or ride horses any more. It hurts when I bend down and move a certain way.

“I will have to adapt my life now completely.

“I was supposed to be doing up the new home but I’ve not been able to do any of it.”

The crash happened south of Fakenham, at the junction of Fakenham Road and Raynham Road. 
Mr Witherford had an operation on his spine at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on October 26 but is still having problems and may need to undergo a spinal fusion in the future.

Paul Watling, of Fakenham Road, Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham, who was 33 at the time of the crash, was given six penalty points, fined £430 and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £43 victim surcharge by Norwich magistrates in November, after admitting to driving without paying due care and attention.

Mr Witherford said: “I do think the punishment was too lenient but then even when drivers kill people on the roads they don’t get much.

“But this is not just about him. It’s about showing people the real, long-lasting impact of what happens after an accident and encouraging people to take more care on the roads.”

Miss Souster-Dolby said: “The last year was supposed to be a very special one for us but it’s been a complete nightmare.

“People don’t see the real impact that an accident has on people.

“If it hadn’t been for my father, helping us out financially, we would have lost everything.

“Not everybody is lucky enough to have that support.”

She added: “Since moving to Norfolk I’ve been shocked by the way some people drive on the country roads - it’s terrifying.”

The number fatal and serious injuries in crashes on Norfolk roads:

2015 - Fatal 33; serious 305.

2016 - Fatal 33; serious 338.

2017 so far: Fatal 2; serious 11.

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