Chesterfield van driver jailed for causing horror head-on smash on Peak District road

Horror crash on the A623 near Tideswell. Pic: Derbyshire Roads Police, Twitter.
Horror crash on the A623 near Tideswell. Pic: Derbyshire Roads Police, Twitter.

A van driver who caused a head-on smash that left three people, including himself, seriously injured, has been jailed for two years.

Builder Mark Heeley broke the speed limit when he overtook illegally across solid white lines while driving through bends and up a hill before colliding with a Nissan being driven in the opposite direction.

Horror crash on the A623 near Tideswell. Pic: Derbyshire Roads Police, Twitter.

Horror crash on the A623 near Tideswell. Pic: Derbyshire Roads Police, Twitter.

The force of the impact caused damage to five vehicles in total and the driver of the Nissan suffered multiple broken bones as well as head injuries.

A female motorist who was also involved “thought she and her four-month-old son who was in the car “were going to die” in the impact.

And another motorist who was involved described the force of the impact as “like a bomb going off with pieces of car going everywhere”.

Jailing the 32-year-old at Derby Crown Court, Judge Nirmal Shant QC said: “You pulled out over solid white lines and you had the opportunity to pull in after you overtook the first vehicle but you did not.

“You attempted to overtake a second vehicle and that had disastrous consequences which was catastrophic for all involved.”

Sarah Slater, prosecuting, said the offence happened on a stretch of the A623 at Tideswell known locally as the “Manchester bends” on March 1.

Heeley was driving a Ford Transit van and chose to overtake two vehicles, going over solid white lines in the centre of the road which was an illegal manoeuvre.

Miss Slater said the first vehicle he overtook slowed down to create a gap for him to pull into but instead he tried to overtake the second vehicle.

She said: “It was a seriously dangerous manoeuvre which had disastrous consequences.

“One witness said the noise of the impact was like a bomb going off with pieces of car going everywhere.

“A woman who had her four-month old son in the car said she believes she passed out briefly and when she came round she heard her son crying and felt lucky because she thought they were both going to die.”

Miss Slater said the most seriously injured person, the driver of the Nissan who was involved in the head-on crash with Heeley, suffered a broken leg, pelvis, foot, frontal head trauma and an aneurysm on the back of his head.

She said he spent seven weeks in hospital and needed numerous operations.

Heeley pleaded guilty to two counts of causing serious injury through dangerous driving.

One count relates to the Nissan driver and the second to a friend who was in the Ford Transit he was driving.

Will Bennett, for Heely, of Compass Crescent, Chesterfield, said his client was a “hard-working, decent, committed family man” who had spent eight days himself in a high dependency unit in hospital after receiving his own injuries in the crash.

Mr Bennett said: “This dangerous manoeuvre, horrible as it was, was completely out of character for him. He has pulled out (to overtake) and he should have pulled back in but he did not.

“No-one in this room knows better than the defendant how lucky it is that no-one was killed. He shows genuine horror at the harm he has caused.”