‘How can you not have stopped?’ asks Leeds dad left for dead by hit and run driver

Hit and run victim Stuart Sunderland with partner Jessica O'Connell and their seven-month-old daughter, Reenie. Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Hit and run victim Stuart Sunderland with partner Jessica O'Connell and their seven-month-old daughter, Reenie. Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe

When Stuart Sunderland lay crumpled on the pavement after being thrown from his scooter, he feared he might die before someone answered his pained cries for help.

He had set off to work from the family home in Middleton as normal on December 5, but less than 20 minutes later he become the victim of a hit and run that left him needing multiple operations.

The metal frame holding the bones in Stuart Sunderland's leg and ankle in place.

The metal frame holding the bones in Stuart Sunderland's leg and ankle in place.

“I remember seeing the car on the other side of the road. There’s not usually that many at that time of the morning,” Stuart told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“I was just getting to the junction and passing it when the car turned across my path. I had no reaction time at all.

“I just remember flying through the air for a couple of seconds then I was laid on the floor facing a wall.

“Obviously I did a lot of rolling about, screaming and shouting for help. That’s when I saw a couple of young lasses who pulled up and called the police.”

All I could think of was my kids and Jessica, and how it would impact them.

Stuart Sunderland

READ MORE: Car leaves scene of crash after scooter rider seriously injured in Leeds

Emergency services were soon on the scene in Dewsbury Road and father-of-four Stuart, 40, was taken to hospital.

Meanwhile, partner Jessica O’Connell was woken by her parents who had turned up at the house in Helston Walk after a call from police.

Jessica, 26, said doctors were still working to stabilise Stuart when they reached the hospital.

“There was his blood all over the floor, a sock covered in blood,” she said. “It’s a scene and feeling that you just can’t put into words.

“Going to hospital and not knowing what you’re going to, it’s the worst kind of feeling.”

The force of the impact left Stuart with four breaks to his right thigh bone, both bones in his lower leg broken and multiple fractures around his ankle.

After two blood transfusions, two operations and time on a high dependency unit, he is now back home with Jessica and their seven-month-old daughter, Reenie.

His leg remains in a metal frame until he has healed enough for a third operation, but Stuart says he feels “very lucky” to be alive.

“A lot of negative thoughts run through your mind,” he said. “All I could think of was my kids and Jessica, and how it would impact them.

There is anger too though that while their lives have been turned upside down, the driver, passenger and those who know them have stayed silent.

Jessica said: “It’s not just a hit and run, they’ve stopped and looked back. How anybody can do that to somebody? Leave them in the road and not know whether they’re dead or alive. It’s beyond inhuman.”

READ MORE: Solicitors take up case of Leeds hit and run victim as search for driver continues

There is no doubt that the driver knows what they did – debris from the car was left scattered across the road and the force of the impact was so great that the scooter was left unrecognisable.

The car even stopped long enough for the passenger to open the door and look back, before they disappeared without doing anything to help.

As the search for the driver continues, Stuart said: “I just want to ask them, ‘Where’s your compassion? How can you not have stopped?’

“I hope they think about it all the time.”

His partner, Jess O’Connell, added: “To them it’s just a biker who they’ve knocked off. I could’ve ended up without a partner, the kids without a father.

“Just imagine if it were your partner or your children’s dad. You would want to know. You would want closure.”

The crash happened on Dewsbury Road at the junction with Trentham Street at around 3.50am as Stuart rode his Pulse 125 Lightspeed scooter to work.

From initial enquiries, it is believed that car involved was a dark VW Polo MK4 manufactured some time between 2002 and 2009.

Anyone who saw the collision or the vehicles beforehand is asked to call 101, quoting log 155 of December 5.