Driver who crashed into train with baby in his car faces jail
PUBLISHED: 05:30 25 June 2019
A driver who had a baby in his car when it was hit by a freight train at a Suffolk crossing has been warned that he could be jailed when he is sentenced next month.
Before Ipswich Crown Court on Monday, June 24, was James Wheeler, 35, of Adastral Close, Felixstowe who admitted endangering the safety of rail users at the Thorpe Lane crossing, Trimley St Martin, on the Ipswich-Felixstowe line on June 9 last year.
Judge Rupert Overbury adjourned sentence until the beginning of July for a pre-sentence report and asked for an update on the loss caused by the collision which was in excess of £34,000.
He told Wheeler: "Custody is going to be the first consideration as there could have been catastrophic consequences."
Marc Brown, for Wheeler, said his client had gone on to the crossing in a state of panic following an altercation.
"He made a wrong judgement call with almost catastrophic effect," said Mr Brown.
He said Wheeler had missed a direct debit payment which meant he wasn't insured at the time of the crash.
Mr Brown said Wheeler was working as a trainee at the Port of Felixstowe and had a young family.
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He urged the court to consider alternatives to immediately custody.
Following the collision, police said Wheeler and the baby were taken to hospital.
At the time Lloyd Welham, 48, a mechanic who has lived next to the railway line for two years, told how he jumped into action to help after hearing the collision.
He said: "I was in the garden and I heard the bang and I went rushing around and it was me who got the baby out the car.
"First all I could see was smoke and I went through the carriages and could see a mangled mess the other side.
"I jumped across the carriages to where the car was and there was someone there shouting get the baby out and I realised there was a baby in there.
"I got the baby out the car and passed the baby across the carriages to someone on the safe side and then I picked the driver up who was laying next to the car and looked after him until the paramedics got here."
He added: "I wanted to make sure everyone was okay.
"You just want to make sure everyone is safe and sound."