A group of Usk cyclists suffered a head-on collision during a Sunday training ride after a driver ‘topped up’ at the pub the day after an eight-hour drinking session that had lasted until the early hours. Louise Griffiths then sped off from the scene and abandoned the car. She was asleep when police came to arrest her four hours later.
- Cyclist re-started her sister's heart and then worked out she had internal bleeding thanks to her heart rate monitor
- "Drive it like you stole it" boyfriend told driver when lending her his car
- "She had not expected to driver her partners car but he drank in the morning"
Wales Online reports that at around 4pm on February 3, Gerald Barnes and his wife Dr Katherine Barnes were out training for a triathlon with her sister Caroline James and her partner Martin Burrows.
They were riding along Llanllowell Lane, between Usk and Llantrisant, when they saw Griffiths’ driving her then boyfriend Jason Cook’s Volkswagen Jetta in the opposite direction.
Gerald Barnes said Griffiths was swerving across the central line and he thought she lost control.
The car hit the grass verge and he said she seemed to overcompensate and skidded across the road. He then heard the crash behind him.
Katherine Barnes said Griffiths had been driving at “motorway speeds” and that at one point the car’s wheels seemed to leave the road.
She suffered a “glancing blow” which knocked her foot off the pedal and caused a graze to her shin. The car hit her sister and Burrows. The latter said he thought he was going to die.
Prosecutor Gareth James said the force of the collision knocked James off her bike and up over the crash barrier.
He said Griffiths reversed out of the hedge and drove away, before abandoning the car and asking her son to pick her up.
Barnes, a registrar at the University Hospital of Wales, initially thought her sister was dead. She performed lifesaving treatment on her as she lay "lifeless" in the road and managed to detect internal bleeding from her heart rate thanks to the fitness monitor on her wrist.
“Restarting the heart of my own sister is something I should never have had to do as a sibling, or as an anaesthetist,” she said. "The fact we were left for dead at the roadside is something I will never come to terms with and struggle to understand."
James stopped breathing twice on the way to hospital, where she was treated for concussion, spinal injury, multiple pelvic fractures, bleeding around her pelvis and nerve damage in her pelvis and lower back.
After three weeks in intensive care, she spent three months as a patient on the ward where she works as a physiotherapist.
Burrows suffered a serious soft tissue injury and has been told that problems with his knee and ankle may be long-term.
Griffiths had been at a party with Cook until 1am the night before, where she had drunk a combination of gin, white wine and jaeger bombs.
On her way home the next day, she drove Cook’s car to two different pubs where she drank more.
“You were topping up from the night before,” said the judge.
The court heard that she had not expected to drive her partner’s car, but he had drunk in the morning.
Griffiths told police that she swerved to avoid a rabbit. She also said Cook had told her, ‘Drive it like you stole it.’
Her barrister, James Tucker, said Cook had, “an appalling, lengthy criminal record for bad driving.”
Griffiths told officers she was driving between 35mph and 40mph, but a collision investigator concluded she would have been going “significantly” quicker.
She was under the legal limit for alcohol at the time of her arrest with 33mg per 100ml in her system – the legal limit is 80mg.
Experts suggested she would have been over the legal limit at the time of the collision but said this could not be proven.
Griffiths pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving. She was jailed for two years and three months and handed a four-year ban.
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