Sergeant Dave Roberts suffers whiplash when a disqualified driver rams him off the road during chase
Sgt Dave Roberts has opened up on the impact of the collision, after suffering whiplash as a result of Nathan Ferguson's dangerous driving
The police sergeant who was rammed off the road by a disqualified driver admits he feels lucky to still be alive.
Sergeant Dave Roberts’ patrol car was sent spinning off the A19 after banned motorist Nathan Ferguson deliberately shunted him onto a grass verge during a high-speed pursuit in February.
The force of the collision left Sgt Roberts – a Motor Patrols officer and lead investigator who has 30 years’ experience – with whiplash injuries.
After seeing the person responsible jailed, Sgt Roberts has today (Tuesday) shed light on the personal impact of the collision and hopes his experience can help change behaviors on the roads.
Sgt Roberts said: “As police officers, we come to work knowing that we may have to risk our own safety to protect the wider public.
“However, I’ve never been involved in an incident where the offender showed such a total disregard for the potential consequences. He hit my police vehicle at 50mph – reckless in the knowledge of what would happen next.
“I often find myself awake at night thinking about what happened that day. It’s not being dramatic to say that I could have been killed – I feel lucky to be alive.
“The embankment at the side of the road was such that it cushioned and slowed my vehicle as it left the carriageway. Had it been a downhill slope from the road, the car would have overturned.
“His actions were such that he was prepared to take my life, when it was my sworn duty and sole intention to use my training and years of experience to bring the pursuit to a safe and peaceful conclusion.”
Ferguson jumped red lights and headed the wrong way down the carriageway as he led police on a pursuit between North Tyneside and County Durham on the morning of February 16.
In a maneuver to help protect the driver himself and other road users, Sgt Roberts moved in front of Ferguson on the A19 in a bid to slow him down – as further police resources followed behind the offending van.
But with the net tightening, Ferguson proceeded to deliberately shunt Sgt Roberts’ car – causing it to spin 180 degrees off the road at high speed.
Ferguson later abandoned his van near Hylton Bridge in Sunderland and fled on foot, but was later arrested after he was located on the roof of a house in Pennywell.
Sgt Roberts added: “As I was struck and moving in the carriageway, I was very aware of what may happen next, and I am not afraid to say that I was scared.
“All officers begin duty with the expectation that they can return to their families once that duty is complete. For the first time, on that day, I feared that might not be possible.
“Thankfully I’ve received some amazing support from colleagues and services within the Force, and while the events of that day will be something I never forget, I’m proud to be back out on the roads doing what I love – protecting the public.
“We all have a shared responsibility to keep our roads as safe as they possibly can be. I hope my experiences help others take note and reaffirm that we – as police officers – are there to help reduce the number of serious or fatal collisions that rip families apart.”
On July 19, Ferguson, of Broadway, Gateshead, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court and pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and assault causing actual bodily harm.
He was subsequently jailed for 30 months and handed a 27-month driving disqualification, which comes into effect upon his release from prison.
Once Ferguson’s disqualification period has expired, he must also sit an extended re-test should he ever wish to drive lawfully again in the future.