Gran killed and family seriously injured in crash on way home from Blackpool Illuminations

The illuminations are a huge draw for tourists to Blackpool each year, and they run until early January.
The family trip to the Blackpool Illuminations ended in tragedy -Credit:James Maloney/Lancs Live

A family trip to Blackpool Illuminations ended in tragedy when a beloved grandmother was killed and her family seriously injured in a car crash.

Former headteacher Diana Brown, 66, had spent the day with her family, visiting attractions and enjoying a horse and carriage ride before heading back to her home in Heysham. But the family's lives were torn apart after Lesley Walkerdine hit them while they were driving home in November last year.

Mrs Brown was tragically pronounced dead at the scene of the collision, while her daughter and two granddaughters were rushed to hospital. Walkerdine admitted to causing death by careless driving and three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, but narrowly escaped jail after she was handed a suspended sentence, reports Lancs Live.

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The court heard how on November 13, Walkerdine had been staying at a nearby holiday park and was driving towards Blackpool. As she approached a bend in the road at around 52mph, she veered across the white line and into the path of the family's Dacia, causing a collision that pushed the Dacia into a hedge.

Walkerdine, 63, was unconscious following the crash but was revived by a passing nurse. Emma Collins, Mrs Brown's daughter, suffered serious injuries including a broken collarbone

She and her two daughters, aged eight and five, were taken to hospital. One of the girls spent four days in intensive care, while the other underwent two operations for arm injuries.

Walkerdine, from Hollinroyd Road in Dewsbury, admitted to causing death by careless driving and three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. She expressed in a letter to the court that she finds the burden of the crash's aftermath "unbearable" and has decided never to drive again.

The court heard she was breathalised in the ambulance and provided a negative sample, and there was no evidence she was using a mobile phone, was overtired or there were any defects with her vehicle.

Mrs Brown's husband Alan Brown said: "We are still devastated over the loss of Diana and we have had to live with the loss over the last 16 months but we don't wish Lesley any malice. In my opinion it was a tragic accident. She did not go out to kill anyone and she will have to live with the consequences."

Emma Collins said trips to Blackpool had been part of her and her mother's lives and they had wanted to share that with her daughters. She told the court Diana had started her career as a teacher and had worked her way up to the position of headteacher, positively impacting the lives of hundreds of children before her retirement.

Emma said her parents had divorced when she was young and "it was always me and my mum". "I don't think I realised how much I still needed her in my life until she was gone", she said.

But she said: "It was a really, really unfortunate accident. Is prison the right place for that?"

The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Robert Altham, sentenced Walkerdine to six months suspended for 15 months for causing death by careless driving, with two months to run concurrently for each count of causing serious injury.

He said: "There is little real explanation as to why this accident happened. I note everyone in the respective vehicles were wearing seatbelts, and I note this defendant was also injured and required hospital treatment.

"The family talk of the devastation that they feel from the loss of their mother, grandmother and member of the family - but they regard this as a dreadful accident that has caused the most dreadful consequences. None of the family wish to see the defendant go to prison.

"In these courts we get to see the worst attitudes and behaviour, and very occasionally we get to see the best, as is here. There is mercy, understanding and generosity and I salute the attitude of the family - it is a generous and humane approach that they take.

"Mrs Brown was clearly a very special person who made a tremendous positive to the children whose education she oversaw and was clearly loved by her family. Though retired, she could have expected to have lived a long and happy retirement."