Car Crash Victim Hopes Dangerous Driving Sentence ‘Sends Out Warning’

Serious Injury Lawyers Irwin Mitchell Now Helping With Rehabilitation And Recovery

02/05/2013

By Dave Grimshaw

A woman seriously injured when a car being driven at high speed came off the road and smashed into a stone wall says she is disappointed that the man responsible has only been banned from driving for two years.

Natalia Buzzeo, 20, from New Hartley, says that driver Damian Bontkowskyj, 27, has “wrecked her life” after being left with a head injury, severe fractures to her spine, arm, ribs, and internal injuries requiring extensive surgery. She knew Damian, also of New Hartley, through a friend and he was giving her a lift home from Whitley Bay when disaster struck.

Mr Bontkowskyj pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and was sentenced today at Newcastle Crown Court.  On the evening of the 20th July 2012 he was driving a Honda Civic too fast on the A190 as it passed Seaton Delaval on a part of the road known as The Avenue. The car came off the road and crashed into a stone wall near the entrance to the National Trust property, Seaton Delaval Hall.

As well as a 12 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, Mr Bontkowskyj was also handed a two-year driving ban, a four-month tag to wear between 7pm and 7am and will have to undergo an extended driving test before being allowed back on the road.

Natalia, who had to be pulled from the wreckage of the car by members of the public, instructed specialist serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office to help in her battle for justice and to help secure access to vital rehabilitation to help her recovery.

Fran Mayes, an expert serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell said: “Natalia suffered severe injuries in the accident simply because the driver was travelling too fast and lost control of the car. It should serve as a lesson to all drivers to ensure they do not put themselves and their passengers at risk of serious injuries as they can change lives forever.

“It’s not yet known exactly how her injuries will affect Natalia in the future, but it is likely that she will continue to suffer both physically and psychologically for the rest of her life. We are now working with Natalia to ensure that she now has access to the best care and rehabilitation to help aid her recovery and get her life back on track.”

After the accident Natalia was rushed to the Royal Victoria Infirmary with fears about injuries to her spine. She underwent several procedures involving pins and plates at hospital to treat fractures at the top of her spine, right arm, hand and foot and also suffered fractured ribs where the seat belt had kept her in place.

Natalia also had severe cuts to her forehead and a cut in her liver which had allowed fluid to leak into her abdomen. She needed further internal surgery to drain the fluid and to repair the wounds. 

She was discharged from hospital in August last year but has been left with significant scars on her head and body. She is also suffering psychologically from the accident, with mood changes, memory problems and a lack of concentration. She has not been able to work since the accident due to her injuries and had needed considerable care and support from her family to help her with everyday tasks.

Natalia says: “The crash wrecked my life. He was driving far too fast and he couldn’t control the car. I am relieved that he has now been sentenced for dangerous driving but I am disappointed that he has not been given a longer driving ban. 

“I’m now working with Irwin Mitchell so that I can move on with my life and get the treatment and therapy I need to try and get back to work and be able to live on my own. It’s been such a tough year but hopefully I can begin to put the ordeal behind me as soon as possible.”