Couple are hurt in car crash as Bruges trip

Witney Gazette: The scene in Belgium The scene in Belgium

A ROMANTIC break abroad turned into tragedy when an Oxfordshire couple were crushed against a wall by a car on New Year’s Day.

Scout leader Simon Huxtable and pre-school worker Deborah Dale were hurt when a Mercedes ploughed into them in the historic Belgium city of Bruges.

Miss Dale, 34, has been in intensive care at the city’s St Jan Hospital and her 44-year-old partner is also being treated.

Early reports that Miss Dale had to have her lower legs amputated were rejected by a family friend who contacted the Oxford Mail.

The Foreign Office confirmed last night that Miss Dale has broken her pelvis and Mr Huxtable broke one of his legs. Further details of the extent of their injuries were not available.

Father-of-two Mr Huxtable is leader of the Cogges Scout Group and mum-of-one Miss Dale once led the Beaver group.

Group chairman Ruth Swift last night said the community would be shocked and upset at the news.

She said the couple, of Wadard’s Meadow, Witney, had sent her a text message on New Year’s Eve before the accident at about 10.30am the next day.

She said: “It was a romantic new year break. They texted us New Year’s Eve night to say they were having a wonderful time seeing the new year in.”

But she said she had received another message yesterday saying they were in hospital.

She said: “He sent me a text this morning letting us know there had been an accident.

“There was not great detail apart from that he had hurt his leg and Debs was very poorly.”

She added: “Simon and Debs are both lovely and generous people. He is a very outdoor bloke. He loves playing tennis, going fishing with his son. He loves taking the Scouts camping.

“People will be very shocked and very upset because they really are a salt-of-the-earth, lovely, down-to-earth couple.

“For that sort of accident to happen to anybody when you don’t know them is horrific, but when it is somebody you know – I can’t describe how it makes you feel.” She added: “They are both fighters. “The group and all their friends and family’s thoughts are with them both and the children.”

Mr Huxtable has volunteered at the Cogges Scout Group for about eight years and had recently become its leader. He also plays for Radley Village Cricket Club.

Miss Dale had recently been promoted to a supervisor at Leafield Pre-School where she looks after two to five-year-olds. Last night the school declined to comment.

A Bruges police spokeswoman explained that under Belgium law the driver of the Mercedes was taken to a police station and banned from driving for 15 days. A magistrate will decide if there will be further charges.

She added: “The driver is a local man. He had borrowed his sister’s car to come to Bruges. He was meant to turn at a T-junction but he went straight on and drove into the British tourists who were walking along the footpath.

“The Mercedes is a very heavy car and it pinned the couple against the house and they were badly hurt.”

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