U.S. Diplomat's Wife Invokes Diplomatic Immunity After Killing UK Teen
Croughton, England – A U.S. diplomat’s wife who killed a British teenager in a wrong-way car crash has left the country and invoked diplomatic immunity, causing outrage on both sides of the pond.
The crash occurred on the night of Aug. 27 as 19-year-old Harry Dunn was riding his motorcycle past RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, the Daily Mail reported.
Northamptonshire police said the 42-year-old wife of a U.S. diplomat pulled out of the air force base and onto the wrong side of the road in her Volvo, where she collided with Dunn head-on.
Dunn was transported to the hospital with multiple injuries and died, the Daily Mail reported.
Northamptonshire Police Superintendent Sarah Johnson said investigators met with the woman and her attorneys the day after the wreck and the diplomat’s wife said she had no plans to leave the United Kingdom, NBC News reported.
“During the course of that meeting we were aware that diplomatic immunity had been raised as an issue, we then made immediate application for a waiver in order for us to undertake further investigations and interview," Superintendent Johnson explained.
She said they sought a waiver from the U.S. Embassy to interview a person with diplomatic immunity before they sat down to talk with the woman, NBC News reported.
But the superintendent said that the waiver request was ultimately declined and police were informed on Sept. 16 that the driver of the Volvo that killed Dunn had returned to the United States.
"Due process was also followed in seeking the necessary documentation to allow for the arrest and formal interview of the suspect, and the force is now exploring all opportunities through diplomatic channels to ensure that the investigation continues to progress," Superintendent Johnson told NBC News in an email.
Diplomatic immunity protects foreign diplomats from lawsuits and criminal prosecution in the country where they are working.
The home country can waive diplomatic immunity but the United States has elected not to do so in this case, the Daily Mail reported.
“'We express our deepest sympathies and offer condolences to the family of the deceased in the tragic Aug. 27 traffic accident involving a vehicle driven by the spouse of a U.S. diplomat assigned to the United Kingdom,” the U.S. Department of State said in a written statement. “We can confirm the family has left the U.K. Any questions regarding a waiver of immunity with regard to our diplomats and their family members overseas in a case like this receive careful attention at senior levels.”
Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, have demanded that the United States return the woman believed to have killed their son to England to face charges, the Daily Mail reported.
“We are utterly devastated by Harry's loss. He was such a precious young man who was loved by all who knew him,” Charles said. “Our lives have been shattered and our only crumb of comfort is the news that Harry was riding perfectly safely that night. He was not at fault in any way.”
“However, with the terrible news that the other driver has left the country, seemingly in an attempt to evade justice, we are totally deprived of the ability to grieve and our lives are now painfully on hold,” the mother continued. “I bear the other driver no ill will. She must be suffering too given what she did, but she must return to the U.K. to face justice. It is only at that point that my family and I will be able to begin to put our lives back together and move forward from this needless tragedy.”
Tim Dunn echoed his wife and said the woman’s escape from justice set a bad precedent.
“We call on the driver and the American authorities to have her come back to the U.K. to face the legal consequences of her dangerous driving that night,” the father said. “It is in no one's interests for her not to do so and would set a terrible precedent if she does not return.”