A MOTORIST accused of endangering the safety of emergency services workers by ignoring road closures during heavy flooding caused by Storm Desmond has walked free from Jedburgh Sheriff Court.
Jane Brewis had to be rescued by firefighters who waded through four feet deep water to reach her while she sat stranded in her Peugeot car.
The 50-year-old company director was charged with culpable and reckless conduct following the incident on the A699 road near Kelso, on December 6.
But the case against her collapsed during a trial after the firefighter in charge of the rescue operation said he did not feel in any significant danger due to his training.
And he added that he had little difficulty in rescuing Brewis, whose car was trapped between two trees near to the entrance at Springwood Park and was under water to the level of the door handle.
Watch manager Mark Laidlaw, based at Galashiels, said the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s water response units were stationed in the Borders because flooding was anticipated.
After the alarm was raised about a motorist being trapped in her car, he arrived at the scene with two retained fire crews from Kelso already there.
Along with five colleagues specially trained in flood and water awareness, they waded waist deep into the water and rescued Brewis who was sitting in the driver’s seat suffering the effects of hypothermia as the inside of her car began to fill up with water.
Mr Laidlaw said the Kelso crews had no specialised wading equipment whereas the Galashiels crew was fully equipped.
He said: “It is a situation where if the rescue passed off without incident they would be the heroes of the day. “But if anything happened to them or the casualty and not taken the risk into account they would be the subject of severe disciplinary action.”
Mr Laidlaw described the water as flowing aggressively with strong currents.
After Mr Laidlaw gave his evidence, depute fiscal Kirsty Lyons said: “The Crown will not be leading further evidence and will not be seeking a conviction.”
The trial did not reach the stage on evidence being heard on whether Brewis of Glenburn Hall, Jedburgh, had ignored road closure signs.
She was found not guilty of the charge of culpable and reckless conduct by endangering the lives of emergency services personnel by ignoring road closure signs.
Sheriff Peter Paterson told Brewis: “The charge against you is one of endangering the safety of emergency services personnel with whatever that conduct was.
“But the evidence from the fire officer was that he had effectively rescued you without danger.
“The difficulty the Crown have is that he said officers from Kelso are not trained to his level and could not have done it without a risk assessment.
“The risk assessment would establish if it was dangerous for them to do it. The Crown cannot prove danger or potential danger.”