Crash victim coma pic prompts driver to come forward

A man has admitted responsibility for a car crash which left a woman critically injured, and handed himself in to police as a result of a publicity campaign launched by the East London Advertiser.

Amy Verlander, 21, was left in a coma after she was hit by a car in East London on 2 September which then drove away leaving her unconscious in the road.

Four days after the accident, Amy’s father John contacted the Advertiser for help to find the driver, as he was frustrated at what he believed was a slowmoving police investigation.

Three weeks later, a man walked into a police station and gave himself up. The man told police it was the Advertiser’s campaign which had led him to turn himself in.

Editor Malcolm Starbrook said: “John Verlander was angry at what he saw as a tardy investigation by police. And he wanted to try to contact a good Samaritan driver who had stopped to help Amy after the crash and whose actions were credited by paramedics for having helped save her life.

“[Amy’s father] had taken a photograph of Amy, who was in a coma in hospital, and asked for our help.” The Advertiser gave up its front page to the picture of Amy lying unconscious and within hours of the paper coming out, motorist Kabir Choudhury contacted the paper and said he was the passer-by who had helped Verlander.

Reporter Jessica Smith organised a meeting between the Verlanders and Choudhury, and on the day they met, Amy came out of her coma.

Starbrook said: “We photographed the meeting and used the front page to again call for help in identifying the runaway driver.

“We also carried regular updates on Amy’s condition on the website to keep the story up-to-date.” After the man had handed himself in, Verlander said: “He told officers that he was suffering remorse after all the publicity the Advertiser had carried.

“We want to thank the Advertiser for its coverage. It’s such a relief. Amy will now be able to get closure instead of wondering who was responsible.” Amy Verlander has spinal injuries, a broken neck, ribs and pelvis. A 28-yearold man has been released on police bail until December.

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