Police handling of US driver who fled UK after crash left nurse unable to walk 'not acceptable'

The police handling of the case of an American driver who fled the UK after a crash that left a nurse unable to walk was "not acceptable".

Isaac Calderon returned to the US after a collision in Herefordshire that left Elizabeth Donowho with two broken ankles and a fractured sternum.

Ms Donowho complained that police had not done enough to keep the 22-year-old in the country.

At first West Mercia police's internal standards team disagreed, saying that there was never any reason to arrest him.

Now, the Police and Crime Commissioner's office has concluded that the force should have arrested the suspect - a move which should have kept him in the UK.

Sky News has seen a letter written to Ms Donowho from Tony Morriss, deputy chief executive for the West Mercia police and crime commissioner, which states that he is "of the view that most reasonably minded people, if they knew the circumstances of this case, would find that the response of the force in this case was not acceptable".

It says: "Mr Calderon was a foreign national suspected of committing a serious offence for which there was a likelihood of him receiving a significant sentence if convicted at court.

"I believe that serious consideration should have been given to the possibility of him leaving the UK to avoid appearing at court."

The letter then acknowledges the "striking similarities" between the case and the crash that killed teenager Harry Dunn - the American driver Anne Sacoolas, a US spy, also left the country.

Mr Morriss wrote: "I believe most investigators would have been guarded about the risk of the suspect leaving the country.

"I believe that Mr Calderon's detention would have been authorised by a custody sergeant had he been arrested in relation to this case… that would have enabled West Mercia Police to impose bail conditions including the seizure of his passport. I believe there was reason to arrest him."

Mystery surrounds exactly who Mr Calderon was working for after Ms Donowho was told by police that he had been visiting the British special forces base (SAS) in Herefordshire when the crash happened nearby last summer.

She told Sky News that she was "devastated" when Mr Calderon, who is accused of causing injury by dangerous driving, failed to turn up to a hearing at Kidderminster magistrates court on 1 December.

A warrant was issued for his arrest.

In court, Mr Calderon's occupation was given as "American soldier", according to the Hereford Times.

In December, West Mercia police said they'd been working to reach Mr Calderon "both directly and through formal channels" and were preparing paperwork should they need to request the extradition of the American.

A short time later, Sky News tracked him down at his parents' house in Humble, Texas.

His father insisted that he'd been in the UK on a work visa, had worked at a warehouse, and the situation had been "blown out of proportion".

On a GoFundMe page to raise money for legal costs, he referred to his son working as a contractor in the UK "due to his security clearance with the Texas National Guard".

He said they'd been "contacted by the FBI" who were "talking about extradition".

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Radd Seiger, adviser and spokesperson for Elizabeth Donowho, said: "This is Anne Sacoolas all over again.

"As pleased as we are to see that our complaint against West Mercia police has been upheld, our sole focus remains on Mr Calderon returning to this country to face justice.

"We are deeply concerned that he is still on the run.

"He has no immunity and his extradition should be very straightforward.

"There is no good reason under law why this has not yet taken place and both the US and UK authorities must explain why that is the case.

"We are concerned that the American authorities are once again doing all that they can to protect their citizens in breach of their very clear obligations where they are under a duty to extradite when they receive a request.

"As for the police, they have been trying to defend the indefensible.

"They knew Mr Calderon was a flight risk and yet did not bail him on condition that he surrender his passport pending the court hearing."

A spokeswoman for West Mercia police and crime commissioner John Campion said he would not be commenting on the case as it was a "private matter".

West Mercia police said they could not provide an update on proceedings, but in a statement Chief Superintendent Gareth Morris said: "We are aware of the findings of a review by the office of the police and crime commissioner of a complaint made to West Mercia police.

"We are in the process of considering the contents of that review and will engage with Ms Donowho and her representatives on next steps that will be taken.

"As legal proceedings remain active it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."