Driver’s horror as smash with vehicle pursued by Leeds police flips her car

The junction of Spencer Place and Francis Road in Chapeltown. Picture: Google Maps.
The junction of Spencer Place and Francis Road in Chapeltown. Picture: Google Maps.

A Leeds woman has relived the moment a speeding vehicle being pursued by police smashed into her car and flipped it over.

Sarah Handley’s car was hit with such force that it spun 360 degrees and rolled over several times, before coming to a stop on its side.

It could easily have been a child or pedestrian hurt. It’s quite scary.

Sarah Handley

As witnesses to the collision in Chapeltown came to her aid, the occupants of the black Renault Megane ran away.

Sarah, 31, said: “It hit my car with such force that it’s been taken from my hands. It’s spun round, flipped on its side.

“I feel like I’ve been given a second life. The fact I had a solid car is probably the only reason I’m here today.”

The crash in Spencer Place took place on Monday just after 6pm when the surrounding residential nearby were busy with people travelling home from work.

In the chaotic moments that followed large crowds gathered to see what had happened and police tried to divert queueing cars as Sarah’s overturned silver Subaru Forrester blocked the road.

One witness, who did not want to be named, said: “I had just been to the shop and as I was walking back, this vehicle came careering up Francis Street, straight across Spencer Place. I had to literally jump out of the way.

“The vehicle that was being chased was doing 70mph or 80mph.

“The silver 4x4 spun and rolled two or three times, before coming to a halt on its side. The car that hit it was only small and still it was rolled over. You can imagine by that the speed it must have been travelling.

“It was a really nasty scene. I’m just glad the lady was okay. She must have been absolutely petrified.”

Recalling the moments immediately after the crash, Sarah said: “I managed to release my seatbelt. Out the corner of my vision, I can see a boy jumping out of the other car and running off.

“There’s people above the car saying ‘Can you get out?’. I rolled down the electric window and they helped me out of the car.

“They were really kind. It means a lot to have people help you in such a situation.”

Officers searched the Renault, while one lady took a shaken Sarah into her house to recover.

Incredibly, she had not suffered any serious physical injuries.

Sarah, of Hillcrest Avenue, said: “The other car’s intention is absolutely to get away and I’ve been the innocent victim.

“I’ve got whiplash in my neck and a backache. I’ve kind of been having flashbacks from it. My car is completely finished but I feel so lucky to still be here.”

The crash happened near Leeds Islamic Centre at around the same time as young people attend afterschool sessions.

Sarah said: “I was heading down Spencer Place towards my home. The car hadn’t stopped to give way and came ploughing into me towards the back.

“There’s the mosque there with local children going in at 5pm and coming out at 7pm. If it had been an hour later, it could easily have been a child or pedestrian hurt. It’s quite scary.”

A police spokeswoman said officers on patrol in Chapeltown had been alerted to a vehicle acting suspiciously at around 6pm on Monday evening.

She said the vehicle drove off and was involved in a collision on Spencer Place.

The driver and three passengers ran off, and are yet to be traced.

Officers seized a number of items from the vehicle, which had been reported stolen from the Armley area on the same day.

The spokeswoman said: “Enquiries are ongoing to trace the driver and passengers of the Renault Megan. Anyone with any information is asked to contact police via 101, quoting 1315 of August 1.”

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