Horrific accident inspires young woman to campaign for change in legislation

23-year-old Laura Reddy is calling for stricter competency testing for drivers after nearly losing her leg in life changing crash.

A YOUNG woman who nearly lost her leg when a car mounted the pavement and knocked her down is hoping to use her experience to inspire a change in legislation.

Laura Reddy, 23, suffered horrific injuries to her lower leg when the car driven by 90-year-old William Peto hit her and her older sister Nadine Marchant in South Molton in November last year.

She was told she would have bled to death on the street if Nadine hadn’t instinctively grabbed a belt from a stranger and made a tourniquet on her leg.

“It was a huge impact which threw me a few metres down the pavement,” said Laura.

“It happened so fast I don’t really remember being thrown; I was turning to run and then I was suddenly on the floor.

“The first thing I did was try to get up, but after the first few milliseconds everything came flooding into focus.

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“I could see shards of bone sticking out of the bottom of my leg and an awful lot of blood – I thought my leg had gone.”

Despite shattering her kneecap, Nadine rushed to her sister’s side and with no first aid training made the life saving tourniquet stemming the blood flow.

“If she hadn’t done that the doctors said I would have bled out before the ambulance even arrived,” said Laura.

“The accident destroyed two of the arteries in my leg and damaged a third, and I essentially had no tissue left on my leg.

“I can’t thank Nadine enough for what she did; I don’t know if it had been me if I would have reacted that way.”

Laura has spent the past year recovering from the accident, which involved her leg being rebuilt and learning to walk again.

On Friday, more than a year after the crash, Peto appeared in Exeter Crown Court admitting careless driving and was fined �2,500 and was disqualified from driving for two years, which was extended indefinitely by the judge.

Peto claimed his shoe got caught between the accelerator and the brake when he was trying to make a u-turn in the town.

Laura told the Gazette she is hoping her experience will raise awareness of driving competency.

She has spoken to North Devon MP Nick Harvey and written to the Secretary of State for Transport, and now she is starting up an e-petition which she hopes people will back.

She said: “Things will never go back to how they were before and death will always be at the forefront of your mind, but you realise you have to make it worth having lived which is why I want to inspire a change.

“It’s not a question of all elderly people being incapable of driving at all; I just think there should be some level of competency test at a certain age to ensure people are fit to be on the road.

“They have much stricter tests in New Zealand and they are bringing in new legislation in the USA, but I think this is a really important issue that should be addressed here.”

Laura’s parents Dave and Karen Reddy said the accident had completely changed their lives around as a family.

“The focus is always on young drivers and nowadays it is so difficult to get a driving licence, but there is nothing at the other end of the spectrum,” Mrs Reddy said.

“How Laura has come through this and what she is doing is brilliant, but we wouldn’t still have her here if it wasn’t for Nadine; we are so proud of both of them.”

Mr Reddy added: “You used to hear about ‘life changing injuries’ all the time but I never fully understood what that meant until now.

“This really has completely turned around not only Laura’s life, but ours too.”

Laura added: “There are so many people that have been really supportive of me during this time.

“PC Rod Lomas has been amazing and the local area is very lucky to have him.

“I also wanted to thank the medical staff who saved my leg and for my friends and family for being so supportive.

“I just hope people will help get behind me and support my e-petition.”

You can view and sign Laura’s petition, titled ‘Regular, compulsory, competency testing with each renewal of licence by an independent body for drivers aged 70 and above’ by visiting http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/42368 or clicking the link in the top right of the page.

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