Couple’s retirement dreams dashed after serious car crash in Cromer Lidl car park

Margaret McGarrity.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Margaret McGarrity. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Thursday, January 30, 2014
3:07 PM

A couple who dreamed about spending their retirement going on holidays and walking had their plans “put down the toilet” after a serious car accident.

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The scene after the accident in the car park of the Lidl store in Cromer.  PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYThe scene after the accident in the car park of the Lidl store in Cromer. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Margaret McGarrity, 60, and her husband Peter, 69, from Sustead, were in the car park of the Cromer Lidl last summer when they were hit by a car being driven by an 81-year-old.

Mrs McGarrity, who cannot drive now, ended up underneath the silver vehicle face down and was airlifted to hospital with serious bruising and a broken left wrist.

The driver Dr John Arbuthnot, from Churchill Crescent, Sheringham, appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on January 24 and pleaded guilty to careless driving.

He was fined £580 and had to pay £58 victim surcharge and £85 costs. He received six penalty points on his licence but was not banned from driving.

Mrs McGarrity, a former NHS administrator, said: “I think he should have been banned. They should have taken away his licence.”

The grandmother was “disappointed” with the result and was now receiving counselling after her life changed so dramatically.

She used to enjoy gardening, meeting with friends, walking, and visiting her daughters and grandchildren in North Walsham and Cranwich.

After the accident Victory Housing Trust, which owns the couple’s rural home, put in a handrail up the stairs and above the bath as Mrs McGarrity can only have showers now.

The crash caused the bones in her left wrist to smash and a metal plate to hold the bones together was put in at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

She will have to permanently keep the plate in which prevents her from driving.

Mrs McGarrity described her new life after the accident as “boring”.

Her husband said the accident had put their retirement plans down the toilet and “ruined their lives”.

The retired Morrisons worker was knocked down by Arbuthnot’s car and suffered badly sprained ankles and bad bruising.

He was taken to the NNUH by land ambulance and currently cannot walk or drive long distances.

Mrs McGarrity added: “A car in Sustead is essential. We only get one bus a day.”

The couple believe they might have to move away from the countryside, which they love.

Emergency services, including the East Anglian Air Ambulance, firefighters and paramedics, were called to the Lidl car park at around 11.50am on June 28.

Mrs McGarrity said: “The only thing I remember was an engine. It sounded like someone had hit the accelerator hard. All I could think of was moving my feet. I had constant pain in my arm but I felt fairly numb in my back. I got the shakes from the shock and could not keep still.”

It took 20 minutes to get her from underneath the vehicle to the helicopter on a board.

She wanted to thank the air ambulance crew and a woman, believed to be called Carol, who reassured her throughout the rescue.

Arbuthnot stayed in the car park while she was being helped and apologised to her and her husband.

Are you the mystery woman who helped Mrs McGarrity? Email nnn.news@archant.co.uk

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