Pensioner, 72, killed Mazda driver in horror crash after gear mix-up

Pensioner, 72, killed Mazda driver in horror crash after gear mix-up

November 16, 2020

Pensioner, 72, killed Mazda driver in horror crash after confusing his accelerator for the brake while in BP garage and reversing onto main road at speed

  • Stephen Titmarsh, 72, accidentally put his car into reverse when he got out
  • When he got back in, the motor started backwards towards the road
  • As he tried to stop it he accidentally hit accelerate instead of the brake 
  • It made his Renault Clio back out at speed onto the road into ongoing traffic
  • He hit John Jenkins, 72, in his Mazda and he was pronounced dead at the scene
  • On Friday Titmarsh was handed a two year suspended sentence and driving ban 

A pensioner accidentally killed another motorist after reversing his car out of a petrol station into his path – when he mistakenly put it in the wrong gear getting out to check his fuel cap.

Stephen Titmarsh, 72, backed his motor at speed onto the road into the path of John Jenkins, 72, causing the fatal crash on April 21.

An eyewitness told how Titmarsh’s Renault Clio came “flying out” of the entrance to a BP petrol station and that it was driving “very fast”.

Titmarsh had been at the fuel garage in Wansford, Peterborough, when the nightmare series of events unfolded.

Peterborough Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday he had pulled onto the forecourt just after 4pm to fill up his car.

Leicester man John Jenkins, 72, was killed in the crash and wife Sheila, 63, seriously hurt

But he did not know what side his fuel cap was on, so got out to look, but accidentally put the gears into reverse and did not put the handbrake on.

The engine was still on and as he got back in the car started to slowly reverse back onto the carriageway.

Titmarsh desperately tried to stop it but mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake and backed out at speed into the path of Mr Jenkins’ Mazda 3, which then hit a Fiat 4 x 4.

The court heard emergency services attended but Mr Jenkins died at the scene and his wife Sheila, 63, received a severe head injury, which still requires treatment.

The BP garage on the A47 where the tragedy occurred earlier in April this year

Older drivers are cautious but over 80s are more ‘at risk’ 

Various statistics suggest drivers in the over-70 age group are cautious and sensible — but once a driver turns 80, it seems to alter.

Dr Kit Mitchell, a former aeronautical engineer and a leading expert in road safety, co-authored a report in 2016 that ‘increasingly focused on drivers over 80 as an age group at particular risk’. 

There are 5,525,452 drivers aged 70 and over holding a full driver’s licence in the UK. Of these, there are 89,420 87-year-olds.

There are 153 100-year-olds who hold driving licences and four aged 108. For older people living in rural areas having their driving licence taken away is scary.

On Friday at court Titmarsh, of Wansford, pleaded guilty to causing death by driving without due care and attention.

At the same hearing he was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, and disqualified for two years.

Sergeant Mark Dollard said: “This case surrounds a momentary error, leading to devastating consequences.

‘Mr Titmarsh accidently selected reverse and the accelerator pedal causing his vehicle to speed into the carriageway colliding with Mr Jenkins’ vehicle.

“This is a reminder of the importance of careful driving and the responsibility of all motorists to concentrate at all times when behind the wheel. It can only take a second to ruin lives forever.”

After Mr Jenkins death warm tributes had been paid to him by Bowls Leicestershire, who he had been currently serving as chairman.

They said at the time: “Bowls Leicestershire confirm the sad news of the passing of our chairman, John Jenkins.

“John and his wife, Sheila, were involved in a serious car accident. Sadly John passed away at the scene.

“John took on the post of chairman of Bowls Leicestershire in 2016 following his presidential year and continued supporting the county in that role to our current season.”

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