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'I didn't have a chance' says van driver who hit calf on Greenham Common

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"In hindsight I probably should have stopped, but I didn't know what to do"

THE driver of a van that hit and killed a calf by Greenham Common said he had “no chance” of avoiding the animal.

Ian Theodore was on his way to play golf with friends at Newbury and Crookham Golf Club when he struck the young cow head on shortly after 6am on Sunday.

Pictures of the animal laying in Burys Bank Road prompted a huge amount of anger when posted on Facebook, with some people claiming Mr Theodore must have been speeding or driving carelessly.

However he has denied those claims, saying he was travelling at the speed limit at the time.

Mr Theodore said in hindsight he “probably should have stayed” with the calf instead of driving off, but added he was worried that parking his vehicle along the verge of the road in the dark could have caused another accident.

Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, he said: “On the stretch of road leading up to the golf course there is a wooded enclosed area.

“There were three or four large white cattle grazing on the verge by wooded area and as I’ve come around the next bend I’ve hit a black object in the middle of the road.

“I had absolutely no chance. I didn’t even see it.

“Initially I thought I’d hit a human, then realised it was a cow.

“To tell you the truth I was frightened to death.

“I had to make a decision and at that moment decided if I got out there was a chance I could have been attacked by the other cows.

“I was also worried I was going to cause another accident so I thought I was better off getting off the road and reporting it to the police.

“Because of Covid you have to sit through three minutes of information then when I eventually did get through to someone I was told I had to report the incident online.

“But they were asking me for a lot of details that I didn’t have on me to hand at the time.

“I did go and play golf after, but it wasn’t through lack of care.

“It was just a case of being shaken up and not really knowing what to do.

“I didn’t try and hide. I parked the van somewhere obvious and prominent with a massive dent in it so people could clearly see it.

“When I came off the course a farmer was there. It wasn’t the farmer that owned the calf – to be honest I didn’t realise anyone owned them as they roam on the common.

“I thought it was like the wild horses that you see in the New Forest.

“I didn’t intend to do a runner like people are saying. I tried to report it but I couldn’t at the time so had to report it later that day.”

He added: “In hindsight maybe I should have made the effort to go back, but I wasn’t really sure what to do or what the right protocol is for when you’ve hit a cow.

“Some of the abuse I’ve got online has been really nasty and hurtful.

“Some people were saying I should die and I think that’s a bit uncalled for.

“I never intended to hurt the animal.

“You see the reports and comments saying that I must have been speeding, that I must have been careless. I wasn’t, I was going the speed limit.

“I didn’t go out with the intention of killing an animal.

“It was an accident and I tried to do what I thought was the right thing at the time.

“People don’t think these accidents happen, but sometimes, sadly, they do.”

Mr Theodore’s van is believed to be a write-off and he thinks the accident could end up costing him in excess of £20,000.

He said: “I’m pretty sure the van is a write-off and the insurance won’t pay out.

“So I’ve probably got to pay off the finance on the van and potentially buy a new van as well.

“I’ve also got to pay for the vet bills, the cost of the animal and the disposal of it too, which is another £2,000.”

Sunday’s incident was the second time a cow has been hit by a car on the same road in the space of a month.

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