About the Accident
I was returning from an evening with 'the Essex guys' more formally known as Essex Roadsters. A small group of friends brought together initially by our MGF ownership under the banner of Club MGF, but as events in each of our lives unfolded, the club evolved into the multi-vehicle format that it is today in order to reflect our changing needs and tastes in cars. The club currently is a collection of friends who meet up regularly and arrange occasional events for our amusement. It was against this background that I found myself returning from an enjoyable evening slot car racing on a giant, 6 lane Scalextric circuit at around midnight on Saturday the 8th February 2003.
It was a pretty miserable night for driving, wet, cold and despite being 'up' from the nights' racing I was beginning to feel a bit tired as I entered the new A130 dual carriageway from the Rettenden roundabout, heading towards Chelmsford. As soon as I entered it I spotted some cars with their hazards lights on the hard shoulder to my left. I hadn't had a chance to reach the legal limit yet, but I pulled into the overtaking lane anyway in order to give them some room, when I glanced forwards again however I found myself staring at the side of a Vauxhall Nova, nose into the central reservation, front lights smashed, rear lights out and sitting in the overtaking lane right in front of me.
I swerved to avoid the Nova, pulling into the nearside lane, but in the process lost traction on the rear wheels, possibly due to debris on the road dragged from the central reservation by the Nova - certainly the cold, wet conditions didn't help matters. Too little correction, too late saw the skid turning into a spin, by this time heading back towards the central reservation. I remember looking at the approaching Armco through the passenger side window and thinking, "this is going to hurt".
Inevitably the impact arrived, initially on the front nearside corner and then spinning me onto the rear nearside corner before pitching the car back across the overtaking lane, into the middle of the road, facing in the original direction, a 360-degree spin. The car had stalled, but I knew that I had to get it out of the road, so I tried the key and she started first time, I breathed a sigh of relief and started to steer towards the hard shoulder - it was then that I realised that I had done significant damage to Scarlet.
The wheel was very heavy and I had to put it on full lock before I started heading in the required direction - the car was dragging the front wheel. Slowly I inched onto the hard shoulder, set my hazard lights and exited the car to see the damage.
Having nothing better to do I returned to Scarlet for a closer inspection of the damage. Even in this dim light I could tell that the front and rear passenger side quarters were quite badly damaged, but the front wheel was the worst item as it was clearly hanging off. I on the other hand had survived without a scratch, tough little car, Scarlet had 'taken the bullet' for me. I got out my warning triangle and set it up behind Scarlet and then headed for the Nova to get some details.
It was a white Nova GTE and true to the driver's words the steering wheel was on the passenger seat. I took down the registration number and returned to Scarlet for my umbrella and one of my floor mats, I then climbed the grass bank to await the recovery vehicle.
It wasn't long before the Police arrived, they started at the Nova and then began to walk towards me, I climbed down the bank and met them half way, whereupon I gave a statement and was (zero) breathalysed. They were most interested in the Nova occupants, but as I mentioned earlier I was unable to give them much of a description as I had only seen them briefly as they drove by in the Peugeot. The Police began clearing up some of the debris, much of it from Scarlet now. :-(
As I got out I looked back towards the Nova, two people were pushing it out of the road and in between it and Scarlet was a Peugeot on the hard shoulder. After a quick look at Scarlet, where my fears were confirmed. I rang my Dad to inform him of the accident and headed towards the Peugeot just as the couple in the front were being joined by the 2 people who had by now moved the Nova to the hard shoulder. They got into the back as I arrived and as the Peugeot started to pull away one of them called, "the steering wheel just came off in my hand!" It was then that I realised that the 2 young lads in the back seat were the driver/occupant of the Nova and were leaving the scene. It being dark and I suppose I was still a bit shocked, I didn't get a description or the number plate of the Peugeot.
Finally they left after giving me a '7 day wonder' and I returned to the bank to await the recovery truck. After about an hour, the rain became quite heavy, by this time I was cold, soaked and had had enough of the mud on the bank so I returned to the passenger seat of Scarlet and dozed off for a bit. At around 1:15am a second Nova stopped opposite me on the other carriageway. The driver put his hazards on and carefully crossed to Scarlet and introduced himself. It turns out that he was part of the couple in the Peugeot (it belongs to his girlfriend) and he had returned to give me his details as a witness to both accidents, the Nova GTE's and mine. Unwittingly he had facilitated in the other two lads leaving the scene - after talking to him I believe him, after all he didn't have to come back - he was just doing the 'good Samaritan' bit by offering them a lift. He left me at around 1:30am. I returned to my 'dozing' in Scarlet's passenger seat.
Finally the tow truck arrived at around 2:15am. Apparently he had been on a call in Haverhill and it had taken this time to get all the way back to me. After an uneventful journey we arrived back home at 3:30am Sunday morning.
N926 FEV "Scarlet Fever"
Post Script. The following afternoon, believing Scarlet to be a write off and in need of transportation I arranged the purchase of a new car. Monday morning I received a call from the dealership stating that they had done a HPI search on the white Nova GTE's registration number and it was allocated to a red Vauxhall Carlton!