UK

US man ‘associated with secret service’ leaves UK after nurse injured in crash

Elizabeth Donowho close to the site of the crash in Shucknall Hill, Herefordshire (Jacob King/PA)
Elizabeth Donowho close to the site of the crash in Shucknall Hill, Herefordshire (Jacob King/PA) Elizabeth Donowho close to the site of the crash in Shucknall Hill, Herefordshire (Jacob King/PA)

A mental health nurse said she was horrified after a US citizen “associated with the secret service” left the UK after a car crash that left her unable to walk.

Issac Calderon, 22, was due to appear at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court on December 1, charged with causing Elizabeth Donowho, 56, serious injury by dangerous driving in a collision in July.

Calderon, who Ms Donowho said was described as a “flight risk” by police, was able to leave the UK on a commercial flight on November 25 and return to Houston, Texas, in the US.

Elizabeth Donowho accident
Elizabeth Donowho accident Ms Donowho suffered multiple fractures in the crash in July (Elizabeth Donowho/PA)

West Mercia Police told Ms Donowho that Calderon had been carrying out work “associated with the secret service” and working on matters “that might come under the Official Secrets Act” before the crash on the A4103 near Shucknall in Herefordshire on July 31.

They also told her the US military police had given “assurances” that he would not leave the country.

Ms Donowho, from Malvern, Worcestershire, was also told “the extradition process” had begun and the PA news agency understands there are no issues surrounding diplomatic immunity.

She said police had cited the case of Anne Sacoolas when explaining that Calderon was a flight risk – a US citizen who was able to leave the UK after diplomatic immunity was asserted on her behalf following a road crash that killed teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn.

She told PA: “I had multiple fractures, which included my sternum, my right hand and both my ankles.

“I had to have surgery on my left ankle which was broken in two places and I couldn’t walk for six weeks.

“I had two and a half weeks in hospital and had to rely on the kindness of others to get by.”

Ms Donowho said she has been unable to work since the crash, adding: “The fact that the person who crashed into me didn’t turn up for the hearing and has since left the country has been pretty devastating.

“I thought things would move on after the hearing but it’s just got much worse.”

The Hereford Times said Caldron’s occupation was given as an American soldier during December’s court hearing.

Calderon has been described as a “private citizen” by the US embassy and police said he had been in the UK on a work visa.

It is understood police were not advised of any intention Calderon had of leaving the UK.

Ms Donowho told PA: “It was just a normal evening driving home from work.

“I had no warning really that there was going to be an incident – the first thing I knew was a big silver object hurtling towards me, I couldn’t identify it as a car.

“It turned out that the side of the car was coming towards me and there was nothing I could do to avoid it, I just had to brace myself for the impact and the inevitable.”

Calderon was interviewed on August 15 by officers, 15 days after the initial crash, as he required immediate hospital treatment.

Asked what she had been told about him, Ms Donowho said: “I was told that because the person who crashed into me was American and a flight risk that they were working much more quickly than usual to get him to court.

“I was also told by police early on – they cited the case of Anne Sacoolas and repeated that he was obviously a flight risk.

Elizabeth Donowho accident
Elizabeth Donowho accident Ms Donowho urged Calderon to hand himself into authorities (Jacob King/PA)

“They said they had spoken with our military police who had then spoken with American military police who had guaranteed that he would stay in the country to face justice.”

She added: “I strongly suspected it (that he would leave the country). It’s put a completely different spin on things, and of course I feel really let down by the authorities who guaranteed they had put everything in place to keep the other driver in this country to go through our justice system.

“He could be anywhere in the world now, I do doubt that we will ever see him again.”

Harry Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told PA she was “horrified to hear what happened to Elizabeth and that the defendant has now fled the country”.

She added: “This takes me right back to the weeks following Harry’s death when the same thing happened to us.

“I am now in close contact with Elizabeth and am giving her all the support I can, as are my team.

“I fully expect her situation to be resolved far more quickly than ours was.”

Asked how she felt after Mr Dunn’s case had been cited before Calderon’s departure, Ms Donowho said: “I’m just horrified. I’m horrified that I’m in the middle of this.

“I’m normally such a private person and I’m horrified that despite everything Charlotte and her family have done and everything they’ve been through that it’s just happened again.

“I will do everything in my power in future for it not to happen again, but I have lost faith in our authorities I have to say.”

Confirming Calderon’s departure, West Mercia Police said: “Mr Calderon is an American citizen who, we understand, was in the UK on a work visa.

“Our inquiries have established that he left the UK on November 25 and flew to the United States.

“We are engaging with his solicitor to inform him of the warrant and the need for him to return to the UK.

“We have also prepared appropriate paperwork should we need to request extradition, to ensure that the case can be heard in court.”

Ms Donowho said she wanted the UK and US authorities to work together to secure Calderon’s return.

Asked if she had a message for him, she told PA: “I suspect he’s quite frightened.

“I would say please make yourself known to the authorities closest to your location so that they can support you to do the right thing.”

A US embassy spokeswoman said: “The US embassy does not comment on law enforcement matters involving private US citizens.

“The US and UK co-ordinate closely on law enforcement matters.”

The Home Office said it would neither confirm nor deny whether an extradition request had been made until the suspect had been arrested, as a matter of longstanding policy and practice.