Footage shows moment tipper van rams police car off A19 during chase

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A police officer "could have been killed" when he was deliberately pushed off-road during a high-speed pursuit.

Sergeant Dave Roberts, a motor patrols officer with 30 years experience at Northumbria Police, suffered whiplash injuries to his head, neck and chest in the collision on 16 February.

Sgt Roberts was pursuing 24-year-old Nathan Ferguson, who had jumped several red lights before driving a tipper van the wrong way down the A19.

A lengthy chase had taken place between North Tyneside and County Durham before Sgt Roberts was rammed off-road.

Sgt Roberts suffered whiplash injuries to his head, neck and chest due to the impact of the collision. Credit: Northumbria Police

Ferguson, of Broadway, Gateshead, later abandoned his vehicle near Hylton Bridge in Sunderland and fled on foot but was arrested after being located on a roof of a house in Pennywell.

He has now been jailed for 30 months and handed a 27-month driving disqualification, which comes into effect upon his release from prison, after pleading guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and assault causing actual bodily harm at Newcastle Crown Court on 19 July.

He will also be required to sit an extended re-test should he ever wish to drive lawfully in the future.

Ferguson was jailed for 30 months and handed a 27-month driving disqualification. Credit: Northumbria Police

“This could so easily have been a very different outcome,” Chief Superintendent Neil Hutchison said. “It is sheer luck that Ferguson is not facing potential murder charges as a result of his actions that morning.

“He endangered the lives of other road users, showing a total disregard for their safety and the law, as he jumped red lights and drove the wrong way on the dual carriageway.

“Due to the very real danger that he posed to the public, a significant police response was required to attempt to bring his vehicle to a stop. He then deliberately shunted one of our marked vehicles off the road, sending it spinning onto the embankment.

“As a result of this collision, Sgt Roberts sustained significant whiplash injuries – in my 25 years of policing, it is one of the most dangerous pieces of driving that I have ever seen.”

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.”

He 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.”

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