Pentagon chief left teens buried under debris in Harrogate crash, court told

Harrogate crash/Col Benjamin Oakes
Col Benjamin Oakes denies careless driving following a collision in Harrogate. Credit: PA/ITV News

A senior United States military officer caused a crash which left two teenagers seriously injured and buried under debris, prosecutors have told a court.

Colonel Benjamin Oakes – who is understood to be the head of space policy for the US joint chiefs of staff at the Pentagon – went on trial on Monday at York Magistrates’ Court.

Oakes, 46, has denied two counts of causing injury by careless driving in North Yorkshire.

Prosecutors told a district judge how Oakes was driving a white Vauxhall Astra outside Ashville College independent school in Harrogate on 2 February this year.

Louise Berry, prosecuting, said Oakes was edging out of a junction when he clipped a Ford pickup truck, causing that vehicle to swerve and spin.

The truck collided with a wall and two boys were buried under debris, she told the court.

Giving evidence, one of the boys said: “We got hit through the wall. I think I got knocked out for a bit.

“We were in the bushes. I just heard (his friend) scream.”

The road was closed following the crash. Credit: ITV News

The boy said the truck hit him and he went onto its bonnet before hitting the wall.

He described how he found himself with a large piece of the wall on his left leg.

The teenager said he looked over to his friend who saw his own badly injured leg and started screaming and saying he was going to die.

The witness, who was 15 at the time and is now 16, said he saw the Astra edging out the junction and clip the back end of the truck, which was coming up the road “pretty quickly”.

Oakes, from Harrogate, sat listening to the evidence dressed in a grey suit, white shirt and a striped tie.

The Guardian has reported that Oakes has worked in a range of high-level roles for the Pentagon and, according to his LinkedIn profile which was taken down shortly after he first appeared in court, he has been serving as the chief of space policy for the joint chiefs of staff.

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