A devastated widower from Dalkeith has recalled his agony at learning an ambulance that passed him was responding to his jogger wife who was killed by a teen driver.
Rob Baines’s wife Sharon had been waiting to cross the road and was struck by a car that mounted the kerb. Driver Chloe McCole (21)was this week sentenced to 300 hours unpaid work and banned from driving at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after admitting causing death by careless driving.
Heartbroken Rob (53) said: “I was on the bus to work and got a message from my son Alistair saying Sharon hadn’t come home – then an ambulance went past. I could see the blue lights continue ahead. I started feeling like the walls were closing in and my heart pounding in my chest.
“I tried to just stay calm so I kept messaging Alistair but when I finally got to work I got a call from him saying the police were at our house to take us to hospital. I felt numb. My whole world just fell apart.”
The court heard mum-of-two Sharon was out for her daily morning jog on December 12, 2017. Despite the winter morning, public CCTV showed the area was lit by streetlights while Sharon also wore a high-visibility jacket and bright orange running shoes. Footage from 6.45am shows the accountant waiting on the pavement at the junction of Melville Gate Road and Old Dalkeith Road.
At that moment driver Chloe McCole mounted the kerb in her silver Ford Fiesta. Sharon was struck head-on and thrown into a metal signpost. She was rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary but died a short time later from head and neck injuries.
Nursery worker McCole – aged 19 at the time of the incident – was unable to explain why she mounted the kerb.
A police investigation found there was no adverse weather or road conditions that may have caused the collision.
There was also no evidence McCole broke the road’s 40mph limit and her mobile phone had not been used at the time of the crash.
Sheriff Alistair Noble: “You have pled guilty to causing death by careless driving. You failed to follow an elementary rule of driving which is keeping your car on the road.
“The consequences here were devastating – Mrs Baines lost her life and the opportunity to see her children grow up.
“It is plain to me you are genuinely remorseful. Assessing all circumstances it doesn’t occur to me that a custodial sentence would be appropriate here.”
McCole, who had no previous convictions, was ordered to carry out 300 hours unpaid work over the next 12 months and banned from driving for 32 months, reduced from four years due to her early plea.
Recalling that fateful morning, Rob revealed when he and Alistair arrived Sharon had just been moved to intensive care after undergoing surgery and an emergency CT scan.
Accompanied by Alistair, Rob then sat in the relative’s room and tried to contact his daughter Megan who was in a university lecture.
After finally getting through and explaining the situation to Megan she raced to the ERI.
The family then spoke with medics where they were faced with the devastating reality of turning off Sharon’s life support machine.
Rob added: “That day passed in a blur. The hospital staff were great and did everything they could but the consultant said they were simply prolonging her death rather than her life.”
In a statement released through Digby Brown Solicitors, Rob responded to McCole’s conviction. He said: “I think about how similarly aged Chloe is to my kids and how I’d feel if they were in her shoes. Chloe didn’t set out to kill anyone that morning – I do believe she is sorry and this will no doubt affect her for the rest of her life whether she’s locked up or not.
“Ultimately, my partner and friend and my children’s mum has been stolen from us – Sharon and I were at a point in life when we could spend some time together. This optimistic future was gone in the blink of an eye. I cannot see myself or the kids ever getting over this.”
Anyone affected by traffic collisions can contact road safety charity Brake on 0808 8000 401