Senior officers have today condemned Nathan Ferguson’s actions after he drove a tipper van the wrong way down the A19 and rammed a police vehicle onto the grass verge.
Showing a disregard for other road users, Ferguson, 24, jumped several red lights and caused other motorists to take evasive action on the morning of February 16.
His dangerous driving led to a a lengthy police pursuit between North Tyneside and County Durham – before Ferguson shunted a marked police car being driven by Sergeant Dave Roberts.
Sgt Roberts, a Motor Patrols officer with 30 years’ experience, suffered whiplash injuries to his head, neck and chest due to the impact of the collision, which caused his vehicle to spin off the road.
Ferguson later abandoned his van near Hylton Bridge in Sunderland and fled on foot – but was later arrested after he was located on the roof of a house in Pennywell.
On July 19, Ferguson, of Broadway, Gateshead, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court and pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and assault causing actual bodily harm.
He was subsequently jailed for 30 months and handed a 27-month driving disqualification, which comes into effect upon his release from prison.
Read more: Banned driver went wrong way on A19 in County Durham in police chase
Chief Superintendent Neil Hutchison, of Northumbria Police’s Operations Department, says Ferguson “could have killed” Sgt Roberts and other members of the public.
“This could so easily have been a very different outcome,” Chief Supt Hutchison said. “It is sheer luck that Ferguson is not facing more serious 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.”
He added: “I would like to thank all those who played their part in the successful apprehension of Ferguson, in particular Sgt Roberts who showed outstanding bravery and dedication to protecting others.
“This type of dangerous and reckless behaviour will never be tolerated, and we will do everything we can to remove dangerous drivers from our roads.”
Speaking about the terrifying experience, 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.
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“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.”
Once Ferguson’s disqualification period has expired, he must also sit an extended re-test should he ever wish to drive lawfully again in the future.