The family of an NHS paramedic who was killed in a road crash have called for the Government’s help to secure the return of a Turkish suspect.
The PA news agency understands Seda Gun is alleged to have caused the death of Vicky Lovelace-Collins in Stevenage in September 2018.
Hertfordshire Police told the 38-year-old’s family “some months later” that the suspect had travelled back to Turkey days after the crash in Lonsdale Road.
The “NHS hero” was treated by colleagues from East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) for significant head injuries, a fractured pelvis and a broken wrist after a car crashed into her motorbike near her home.
She was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge but doctors told her family two days later there was nothing more they could do to save her.
Despite authorising a decision to charge Gun with causing death by careless driving, the Crown Prosecution Service said there are “challenges” in the case as the suspect is “currently living abroad”.
Mrs Lovelace-Collins’ family said the police took a statement from the alleged killer at the scene of the crash but she was able to travel back to Turkey as she was “not deemed a flight risk”.
PA understands Turkish police offered to interview the suspect but this was declined by UK authorities.
Mrs Lovelace-Collins’ wife Naomi and mother, Wendy Lovelace, have called for the Government to intervene.
Speaking of the incident, Naomi Lovelace-Collins told PA: “She’d been to have lunch with her friend at Lakeside and was returning home.
“She was riding her motorbike on our road and a car crossed her path and with the impact, because she had no time to react, her helmet came off.
“The relevant services were called – her colleagues unfortunately did all they could.”
She said Mrs Lovelace-Collins was “hugely warm, hugely compassionate. Just a real character”, adding: “She was fun-loving, caring – she just had a way with people.
“She instantly put patients at ease – she was just beautiful inside and out. One of life’s good ones.”
Mrs Lovelace-Collins worked as a carer before joining EEAS at the age of 21.
“I was very proud of her,” her mother said.
“From the age of five she kept saying to me, ‘I want to drive an ambulance’.
“It’s all she wanted to do. From a very young age she cared about everybody. She just found the good in everybody.”
Reflecting on how they have coped over two years after her death, Naomi Lovelace-Collins said: “You just learn to adapt to the new normal, because for me my whole life was turned upside-down.”
Wendy Lovelace said Vicky had been “my rock” since the death of her husband 16 weeks before, adding: “I kept going because of her. I think that’s why I keep going now, because I promised her I wouldn’t fall apart, so I’ve got to do the same for her.
“We’ve just missed her so much.”
Detailing what they had been told about the investigation, Naomi Lovelace-Collins told PA: “The police did warn us the whole thing would take at least 18 months – that it would take six to nine months for them to put their case together.
“True to their word, I think it was June 2019 the police handed their investigation over to the CPS and then we had a long wait from there to hear anything.
“We were told that it was a female driving the car and that there were other people in the car with her, thought to be her family – her children and mother.
“We were told that (the police) would keep in regular contact with her and us about the way things were going to go, but after Vicky died they went round to tell the suspect that Vicky had died and apparently she was quite distraught.
“So we were hopeful that she would show remorse and follow the case through.”
“We were hopeful she would say sorry,” Wendy Lovelace added.
Naomi Lovelace-Collins continued: “We came to learn some months afterwards that she had left the country literally days after Vicky died.
“When I asked the police why she wasn’t formally interviewed, it was because she had left the country, and when I asked why she was able to they said it was because she wasn’t deemed a flight risk.
“(The police said) she had built a life here in this town with her husband and family… so she wasn’t deemed likely to go anywhere.
“The police don’t have the power to retain passports from either party to prevent them leaving the country so it seems they were powerless to stop her from leaving the country.
“The CPS said the situation is complicated by the fact that the UK doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Turkey. Nobody has said it’s impossible, but they’ve just said the matter is complicated.”
Asked if she had a message for Gun as a mother herself, Wendy Lovelace said: “Come back and face what you’ve done.
“We know she didn’t go out to kill her that day, but to run away and leave us with all this devastation – it just hurts.”
Naomi Lovelace-Collins added: “We just want the Government to do all that they possibly can… to secure her return to be interviewed by the police. Whatever those channels are, I’d like them to explore them rigorously.
“We owe it to Vicky as an NHS hero, and our loved one, to try every possible avenue to get justice.”
The family are now being represented by Radd Seiger, spokesman for the family of Harry Dunn, who was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car outside a US military base in Northamptonshire, before the suspect returned to the States.
District Crown Prosecutor Natalie Carter, for the CPS, said: “We have met with Vicky Lovelace-Collins’ family and updated them on what we and the police have been doing to secure justice in this case.
“There are challenges because the suspect is currently living abroad, but we have assured Vicky’s family that we will continue to do everything we can so that the driver faces the charge we have authorised of causing death by careless driving.”
A Hertfordshire Police spokeswoman said: “We worked closely with the family during the investigation process which took our road crash investigators nine months to complete. The police file was then submitted to the CPS for a charging decision.
“We have continued to support the family during this difficult time.”
The Turkish Embassy and the Home Office have been approached for comment.