'Selfish' drunk driver of stolen van pleads guilty to causing horrific A59 crash on Sunday

A59 crash - Google Maps

A59 crash - Google Maps

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The drunk driver of a stolen van who caused a horrific crash on the A59 on Sunday evening then fled from the scene has been charged.

Ethan Wells-Smith of Darley, Harrogate, was already banned from driving when he stole a Mercedes Sprinter van from a property in Darley earlier that evening.

Whilst consuming two cans of beer behind the wheel and attempting to retrieve his mobile phone, which had fallen into the foot well, the 23-year-old crashed the van into two vehicles.

Despite seriously injuring the two other drivers, Wells-Smith left his vehicle and tried to flee the scene of the crash.

It was only thanks to eagle-eyed witnesses who saw the direction that he ran off that officers were able to locate and arrest him five minutes later.

The 47-year male driver of the Corolla was taken to Leeds General Hospital with broken ribs, sternum and cheek bone.

The 72-year-old driver of the Isuzu was taken to Harrogate District Hospital with lacerations to his head and tongue and internal bleeding while his 69-year-old passenger suffered cuts to her shins.

All have since been discharged from hospital.

After initially denying he was behind the wheel of the van, Wells-Smith pleaded guilty to driving whilst over the prescribed limit for alcohol at Harrogate Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, January 24.

He also pleaded guilty to driving whilst disqualified, causing injury due to dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking and burglary.

Detective Constable Quita Passmore of the Harrogate Investigation Hub said “This is a completely shocking crime. Wells-Smith displayed absolutely no regard for the safety of anyone on the road that evening.

"His behaviour was completely selfish, not only with his actions leading up to the collision, but the fact he tried to evade being caught, leaving the scene of the crash without any regard to the people he caused injury to."

“We wish that the victims of this collision a speedy recovery and hope the fact that Wells-Smith has been dealt with so swiftly by the courts provides some element of comfort to them.”

He was remanded into custody and is due to appear at York Crown Court in February for sentencing.