RAC apologises to woman and autistic son for 'abandoning' them

Lucy Richardson, right, with her mum and 11-year-old son

Lucy Richardson, right, with her mum and 11-year-old son - Credit: Lucy Richardson

A woman had to rescue her car from being scrapped after being told to abandon it at the roadside by a recovery firm - having already spent four hours stranded inside it with her autistic son.

Lucy Richardson, 33 and living in Mile Cross, Norwich, has received an apology and compensation from The RAC after an ordeal left her having to collect her car from the police after it broke down on Newmarket Road.

It happened at around 8pm on March 31, with Ms Richardson driving both her 11-year-old son and clinically vulnerable mother at the time.

But despite multiple assurances from RAC and contracted recovery firm P.J. Kerley that her case was a priority due to her son's autism and mum's health, the family were still waiting by the side of the road until after midnight.

By that point, Ms Richardson said her 11-year-old son was a "nervous wreck", had scratched all her arms trying to escape the car and had even sent himself to sleep with exhaustion. She said he has found it difficult to get in the car since.

Lucy Richardson and her 11 year old son

Lucy (right) and her son, who she says has since found it difficult to get in the car because of the stress caused by the breakdown weeks ago - Credit: Lucy Richardson

RAC has apologised to Ms Richardson for the distress the family suffered that evening.

After midnight, she claims P.J. Kerley told her to abandon the car and organise her own transport home, insisting she leave the key on the arch of the wheel with the hazard lights on.

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The next day, Ms Richardson discovered her car had not been collected by P.J. Kerley as promised. Instead, it was impounded by police because of the dangerous position it was left in - and had been damaged in the process.

She had to then pay for its recovery from the police and to have the car taken to a different garage for repair.

"That garage", she explained, "told me the repair was a ten-minute job and could have been fixed at the side of the road."

The RAC's 'universal' spare wheel being fitted to a car.

The RAC has apologised to Ms Richardson, her mum for the ordeal they faced - Credit: RAC

RAC, in response, said: "We've apologised to Ms Richardson for not being able to get to her as quickly as we intended.

"Unfortunately we and our recovery contractors were dealing with an unusually high number of breakdowns in the area.

"While we understand the police recovery costs have been covered by her insurer, we've arranged a further £100 goodwill gesture."

P.J. Kerley's, meanwhile, was contacted but declined to comment.

Ms Richardson's insurer, Hastings Direct, said it had been supporting her in her complaint against RAC.

Speaking after the event, Ms Richardson said: "I'm grateful for the £100 gesture, but that's not the point.

"The point is my son is completely traumatised. I don't think people without autistic children understand just how excruciating this was for him.

"We were completely abandoned."