Motorist jailed after car crash in Wool which killed popular teacher and dad

A 41 year old man from Bournemouth has been jailed after it’s believed he fell asleep at the wheel, causing a fatal multiple vehicle collision on the A352 Wareham Road in Wool.

The crash happened the weekend after lockdown had been lifted at around 5.35 pm on Sunday 5th July 2020.

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Stephen Sheppard of Redhill Drive in Bournemouth, was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court on Monday 7th February 2022 after admitting an offence of causing death by dangerous driving.

Sentenced to three years and four months in prison

He was sentenced to three years and four months in prison. He was also disqualified from driving for five years, with the ban due to start when he is released from prison.

Dorset Police said that Stephen Sheppard was driving a Hyundai Tucson, travelling in the direction of Wool, when it collided with a caravan being towed by a Land Rover that was heading in the opposite direction.

The Hyundai then collided head on with a Ford Fiesta that had been travelling behind it.

Police road closed sign

Warren Wright from London, died at the scene

Emergency services attended and a passenger in the Fiesta, 34 year old Warren Wright from London, was very sadly pronounced dead at the scene. Four other people were taken to hospital with injuries.

Warren Wright’s wife was driving the Fiesta and he had been in the back of the car, caring for his six month old baby daughter, who had been born prematurely.

“He was adored by his wife and loved by both his and her family

After the sentencing, Warren Wright’s family released a statement paying tribute to him:

“Warren was a young man in his prime. His life ahead of him, full of opportunity; he had everything to live for. His career as a primary school teacher was going very well. He was popular with the children, respected by his colleagues and recognised as leadership material by his employers.

“He was adored by his wife and loved by both his and her family. He was very family orientated and enjoyed organising family events. He had many friends, stretching back to his own school days, and was known for his playful sense of humour, his laid -back demeanour, and his caring attitude. He was very close to his Mum and to his younger brother, who he doted on…

“He had an infectious smile and sense of humour and could light up any room. He was a calm and considerate husband and an adoring and skilful father and son. He gave the most wonderful bear hugs.”

Police car close up in Swanage
Purbeck Police

Fallen asleep at the wheel

Enquiries by Dorset Police officers revealed a number of witnesses who reported seeing Stephen Sheppard’s vehicle crossing the central white lines of the carriageway before colliding with the caravan.

Further enquiries revealed he suffered from sleep apnoea but had not been regularly using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to assist with the condition.

Expert reports indicated that it was likely the defendant had fallen asleep at the wheel, which resulted in him failing to negotiate a bend and collide with the caravan before then colliding with the Fiesta.

“Devastating consequences

Police sergeant Mark Scammell, of the traffic unit, said:

“Stephen Sheppard chose to drive when he was not using the CPAP machine that he was required to use to allow him to drive safely. As a result of his failure to use the machine in the weeks and days leading up to 5th July 2020, it is believed he fell asleep at the wheel with devastating consequences.

“Our thoughts remain with the family of Warren Wright at this time and I would like to thank them for their support throughout the investigation and court process.”

Warren Wright and his wife

Warren Wright and his wife. He had been married for three years and had a six-month old daughter

Full statement from Warren Wright’s family

“It was two days after the first Covid lockdown came to an end: Sunday, 5 July 2020. Warren Wright (34) was in the back of the family car, caring for his six-month old baby daughter as they travelled back to London. His wife of nearly three years was driving.

“They had enjoyed a happy, sunny, family weekend with his in-laws, who had been delighted to meet their new grandchild. Up until that point, she had spent most of her short life in Neonatal care, having been born three months premature; and then there had been lockdown.

“Shortly after they crossed the railway line, heading north out of Wool on the A352, seemingly out of nowhere, an oncoming car crossed over to their side of the road, ploughed through the caravan being towed directly in front of them and head on into their car. Tragically, Warren died at the scene.

“Warren was a young man in his prime. His life ahead of him, full of opportunity; he had everything to live for. His career as a primary school teacher was going very well. He was popular with the children, respected by his colleagues and recognised as leadership material by his employers.

“He was adored by his wife and loved by both his and her family. He was very family orientated and enjoyed organising family events. He had many friends, stretching back to his own school days, and was known for his playful sense of humour, his laid -back demeanour, and his caring attitude. He was very close to his Mum and to his younger brother, who he doted on.

“Outside of work Warren loved sport, music, films and collecting Lego. He was a humble young man and nothing was too much trouble for him, he was always pleased to help others, his legacy includes his dedication to looking after and supporting others and he was an excellent listener.

“It was always fun around Warren: the summer before he died, he went skydiving with his mother-in-law and brother-in-law, watched apprehensively by other members of the family. He had an infectious smile and sense of humour and could light up any room. He was a calm and considerate husband and an adoring and skilful father and son. He gave the most wonderful bear hugs.

“The young couple had recently bought a run-down house in South London and Warren was enthusiastically honing his DIY skills as they set about turning their house into a home, suitable for their new family.

“Warren is survived by his wife, daughter, Mum, Dad and brother who miss him beyond words.”

Warren Wright (1986 to 2020)

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