Wednesday 22 November 2017

US doctor avoids jail after 'fallen pen in footwell' crash causing death of grandmother

  • Dr Cedric Simpson (50) was attempting to retrieve a pen which had fallen into the footwell of his hire car when he accidentally crossed onto the wrong side of the road
  • Grandmother Lynn Anderson (60) killed in 'nightmare' crash
  • Grandmother was in Ireland to meet her newly born grandson, Kian, for the very first time
Cedric Simpson pictured at Cork District Court charged with dangerous driving causing the death of Lynn Anderson in Tivoli on June 19th, 2016.
Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited
Cedric Simpson pictured at Cork District Court charged with dangerous driving causing the death of Lynn Anderson in Tivoli on June 19th, 2016. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A US-based ER doctor who admitted dangerous driving causing the death of a tourist in Cork was spared a prison sentence.

Dr Cedric Simpson (50) was attempting to retrieve a pen which had fallen into the footwell of his hire car when he accidentally crossed onto the wrong side of the road by a severe bend in Cork and ploughed into the car carrying UK and New Zealand tourists.

The US doctor was in Ireland to attend a cookery course at Ballymaloe in east Cork and was supported in Cork Circuit Criminal Court by Tim Allen, husband of Darina Allen, son of Ballymaloe founder, Myrtle Allen, and father-in-law of Rachel Allen.

The court heard that Dr Simpson, who sustained a broken leg in the accident, desperately tried to perform cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at the scene on the injured woman, Lynn Anderson (60).

Ms Anderson, a mother of three, had moved back to the UK from New Zealand and was in Ireland to meet her newly born grandson, Kian, for the very first time.

However, due to the double impact nature of the collision she had suffered a ruptured aorta and was pronounced dead later in Cork University Hospital (CUH).

It is suspected the 60 year old may have turned sideways in the rear seat of the car to check on the baby when the double impact inflicted internal chest injuries on her.

In moving evidence, Dr Simpson broke down as he said he had devoted his career to saving lives and was devastated that Ms Anderson had died in the collision.

"I would like to apologise to them (the Anderson family)," he said.

"I have been a doctor for close on 30 years. But I have not been on this side of trauma before.

"We are taught to do no harm. To cause someone's death.... it is very difficult," he said.

Garda Paul Cogan said the accident occurred at 4pm on June 19 2016 as Dr Simpson was driving out of Cork.

Dr Simpson admitted immediately after the collision that he had momentarily taken his eyes off the road to retrieve a fallen pen from the footwell and which was catching underneath his feet as he drove.

Garda Cogan said that there were absolutely no aggravating factors involved with no alcohol, no high speed and no reckless driving.

The Garda also said that Dr Simpson fought valiantly at the scene to assist Ms Anderson with CPR despite his own injury.

In moving victim impact statements, her three children, Chloe, Bill and Luke said what was supposed to have been a happy Irish holiday and family reunion ended up being a nightmare.

"We are angry and upset," Chloe said.

"We went from laughing and smiling one minute to seeing mum lying on the roadway having CPR done on her."

But she stressed that her mother was a generous and kind-hearted person.

"Mum would have had no ill feelings towards Cedric," she said.

Bill said the entire Irish holiday was about his mother getting to meet baby Kian.

"But Kian only got to spend one day with his grandmother," he said.

Luke said his mother was planning to move back to New Zealand from the UK to spend more time with little Kian.

"It was wonderful she got to meet her grandchild but unfortunately she only got to meet him for one day."

Her three children described the incident as "a nightmare" and said they remain devastated by what happened.

Dr Simpson of Portland, Oregon was handed a two year suspended prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death.

Ms Anderson, a mother of three who was born in the UK but lived in New Zealand over recent years, died from injuries sustained in the head-on collision.

The accident occurred at Skew Bridge on the Lower Glanmire Road in Tivoli on the main approach route into Cork city.

Ms Anderson suffered critical injuries and was rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) where she later died.

Judge Sean O'Donnabhain said that while it was clearly dangerous driving there were no aggravating factors involved.

He also acknowledged Dr Simpson's heartfelt remorse over what happened.

The court heard character evidence on behalf of Dr Simpson from two US doctors.

"The result (of the collision) was absolute hardship and chaos to the survivors who have lost a mother and a grandmother," the judge said.

Judge O'Donnabhain noted how Dr Simpson had attempted to help Ms Anderson at the scene and how he had fully cooperated with Gardaí, immediately acknowledging what had happened.

He imposed a two year suspended prison sentence and disqualified Dr Simpson from driving for five years.

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