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A47 Acle Straight tragedy: Dramatic details emerge of rescue bid

PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 November 2014 | UPDATED: 10:00 07 November 2014

Amanda Jacobs, before she had Huntington's Disease.

Amanda Jacobs, before she had Huntington's Disease.

Archant

Heart-rending details have emerged about the desperate rescue attempt following a crash on the Acle Straight in which one woman was saved but another drowned in a car submerged upside down in a water-filled ditch.

Recent picture of Amanda Jacobs who was killed in accident on the A47 Acle straight.Recent picture of Amanda Jacobs who was killed in accident on the A47 Acle straight.

Today the partner of Amanda Jane Jacobs, who died in the crash last week, described how the horror crash could so easily have claimed another life if it had not been for the brave efforts of emergency services at the scene.

Arthur Palmer, from Cringleford, also paid tribute to his partner, who was known as Mandy, and told how she had been unable to escape from the car as she had Huntington’s Disease, a hereditary disorder of the central nervous system.

Mr Palmer, 69, who is known as Charlie, said on Wednesday, October 29, Ms Jacobs had been on a day out with her live-in carer, who is in her 30s.

The carer, whom Mr Palmer asked not to be named as she is still traumatised by the crash, had taken 57-year-old Ms Jacobs to the Great Yarmouth area.

Arthur Palmer, from Cringleford, who paid tribute to his partner, Amanda Jacobs who was known as Mandy who was killed after an accident on the Acle Straight. Photo : Steve AdamsArthur Palmer, from Cringleford, who paid tribute to his partner, Amanda Jacobs who was known as Mandy who was killed after an accident on the Acle Straight. Photo : Steve Adams

On the way back, on the Acle Straight, they were involved in a crash with another car at around 7.10pm.

Mr Palmer, who has joined calls for the stretch of the A47 to be dualled, said: “They rolled over three times before they ended up in the water.

“The police were on the scene in a minute and they could just see the wheels out of the water.

“Mandy’s carer tore all her nails getting Mandy and her out of their seatbelts and managed to get Mandy upright.

“The trouble is the car filled up with water steadily and although she could hear the police outside and they could hear her inside, they couldn’t get the doors open.

“The ditch was really deep and fairly narrow at that point and if the police tried to smash any glass the car would have filled up with water completely.

“When the policeman called it in he specifically said for fire to send a winch which they don’t all carry and they jumped in the water up to their chests and got the winch attached and eased it up so they could smash the back window and get in that way.

“By that time Mandy was already drowned. Her carer tried to keep her up out of the water but because of the way the car was tilted the last few inches of air left were in the back passenger footwell.

“It must have been as horrific as anything you could ever see.”

Ms Jacob’s carer was taken to hospital and while she is recovering physically, Mr Palmer said she had been completely traumatised by the crash.

Mr Palmer, who runs Panther Dryers from the home he shared with Ms Jacobs in Intwood Road, Cringleford, met firefighters from the Green Watch in Great Yarmouth, to thank them for their rescue efforts.

Mr Palmer said: “We want to thank all the emergency services. They were fast and absolutely professional.

“I’m just marvelling at the professionalism of these people and for the government to be cutting back funding for the fire and rescue is appalling.

“Our police family liaison officer has also been absolutely amazing. Professional and human, beyond anything I ever expected, I can’t speak highly enough of her.”

The crash has prompted fresh calls from safety campaigners for the notorious stretch of road to be dualled.

Mr Palmer said: “It’s an awful road and it needs dualling. It’s very difficult for people to judge distances on it at night and even during the day it heats up and shimmers and that throws people.

“Mandy is one of the long list of people who are dead because the road is not really good enough for today’s traffic.”

• Ms Jacobs was born in Reedham but grew in Blofield, where her father ran the fish and chip shop.

She went to Wymondham College before studying for a BA in sociology at the University of East Anglia.

But in 1997 she was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease and the biggest blow came when the DVLA took away her driving licence, leaving her dependent on others.

Mr Palmer said Ms Jacobs had made a personal decision not to have children as she did not want to pass on Huntington’s Disease and while she was a keen proponent of assisted dying, she had not chosen this path herself despite her deteriorating condition.

While Ms Jacobs could communicate her needs with a “yes” or “no”, Mr Palmer said she found conversations more difficult and one of the last exchanges she had was with a carer and she had been trying to explain that she was sorry she was so difficult to look after because of the condition.

He said: “She just had to allow other people to do things for her, but she tried to be as independent as she could. She refused any sort of walking aid.”

The last job Ms Jacobs had before she became too unwell to work was at the Norwich office of Balfour Maunsell.

Jon Trett, a close friend of Ms Jacobs who also helped to care for her, said: “She was effervescent, outgoing, beautiful, stunning even.

“She had blonde curly hair which, when it was backlit, just looked like a halo.”

Mr Palmer, who described he and Ms Jacobs as “old hippies at heart”, said: “She was a country girl at heart and so we’re going to bury her at Colney Wood.”

Do you want to pay tribute? Email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk

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