EXCLUSIVE: Driver, 62, being sued by Claudia Winkleman’s royal Peep Show star sister for £200,000 after breaking her back in car crash claims it was caused by a deer jumping onto her bonnet and smashing her windscreen
- Sophie Winkleman was injured when a Kia Caren collided with her chauffeur-driven Chrysler Voyager
- She is taking legal action against the driver grandmother of four Jacqui Simmons
- The crash happened on the B1383 at Saffron Walden, Essex, in November 2017
- Sophie, 40, an actress, is also known as Lady Fredrick Windsor because she is married to Prince Michael of Kent’s son
- Ms Simmons has described the moment a deer landed on her car bonnet, inflating the airbags leaving her unable to see in front
- She said she was fearful of drifting to the left and falling down on to the nearby M11 motorway so she ‘instinctively’ swerved right and into the passing Chrysler
A grandmother has told how a huge deer smashed into her car windscreen and caused a crash which left Claudia Winkleman’s actress sister with serious injuries.
Jacqui Simmons, 62, spoke out to deny reports that she hit the car carrying former Peep Show star Sophie Winkleman while swerving to avoid the deer.
Instead she described how the deer bounded out in front of her and landed on her windscreen in the darkness, causing the air bags in her Kia Caren to inflate.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Ms Simmons said: ‘It was a massive deer. It came from the other side of the road as if it was jumping to miss traffic coming the other way and we collided. It was a blur. It just appeared from nowhere.
‘It was almost like it fell on top of my car rather than me hitting it up in the air. The air bags were incredible and came up the front of me and at the side so I couldn’t see a thing.
Sophie Winkleman (left with her husband Lord Frederick Windsor) is suing grandmother of four Jacqueline Simmons, 62, (right) for a car crash they had in November 2017
The crash happened on the B1383 at Saffron Walden, Essex, (pictured) when Ms Simmons says a deer jumped onto her car bonnet, smashing the windscreen and inflating her air bags
‘My foot was also wedged on the accelerator so the car was moving. I have lived here for years and I knew in that split second that if I went left, I would land up on the motorway from a height.’
Ms Simmons says she inadvertently drifted to the right into the chauffeur-driven Chrysler Voyager which was heading the other way with Lady Sophie, 40, in the back.
Lady Frederick Windsor, 40, who made her name as Big Suze in TV’s Peep Show
The actress, who is married to Prince Michael of Kent’s son Lord Frederick Windsor, suffered multiple injuries including a broken back in the crash on November 23, 2017.
She is now suing Ms Simmons’ insurers for more than £200,000 compensation, claiming that she has been unable to work full time since the accident.
The crash happened on a bend on the 50mph limit B1383 road just over a mile from Ms Simmons’ home at Newport near Saffron Walden, Essex.
The mother-of-three, who has four grandchildren, had to be cut free from the wreckage of her car by firefighters, and was left with 13 broken ribs and a fractured sternum.
She had to spend a week in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, including two days in intensive care. Ms Simmons revealed that her daughter’s partner was driving back from work and stopped to help at the crash without realising she was involved until he recognised her.
Her partner Colin Summersell, 67, also rushed to the scene after being told she was injured and watched in horror as she was pulled from the wreckage and treated by paramedics.
Ms Simmons who is just 4ft 11ins tall was on her way home from her job as a payroll manager in the early evening darkness just before 5pm when the deer leaped in front of her.
Describing the moment, she said: ‘I just turned away slightly without being able to see anything, but obviously turned it more than I thought and I hit the other car. It was natural instinct.
Lady Frederick Windsor (pictured with her husband) was being driven home in a Chrysler Voyager after filming Danny Boyle’s kidnap drama Trust when her car was involved in the crash
Lady Frederick Windsor is pictured with Prince Harry at the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston at St George’s Chapel on May 18, 2019, 18 months after the crash
The actress was also pictured alongside Prince William as they watched the fly-past from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping the Colour in June 2014
‘I was unconscious and another motorist who stopped raised the alarm. I came round and I could hear screaming.
‘My son-in-law pulled over by chance to help because he is a first aider at work. Then he realised it was me, and he stayed with me.
‘I had six broken ribs down one side and seven down the other with a broken sternum, and bruises all over,’ she added.
Lady Frederick Windsor, who is known to millions as Jez’s lover Big Suze in Channel 4’s cult comedy Peep Show is the half-sister of Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia.
Lady Fredrick Windsor is the half sister of Claudia Winkleman (pictured) whose father is retired publishing executive Barry Winkleman
She married financial analyst Freddie Windsor in a lavish ceremony at Hampton Court Palace in 2009, and the couple have two children.
The accident happened as she was being driven home from filming Trust, a major new American TV series for Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle at stately home Audley End House near Saffron Walden.
Ms Simmons added: ‘Her chauffeur suffered an injury to his ankle and she was in the back with horrendous injuries.
‘The police officer who dealt with the accident spoke to me when I was in intensive care. They knew the deer was involved and they decided not to prosecute.
‘That confirmed to me that it was just a terrible accident. It wasn’t dangerous driving. It was just one of those things.
‘I had to give a statement last year to solicitors for a company acting for Aviva. I know Lady Sophie was saying that it had a devastating impact on her life.
‘Originally they were saying there was no deer because they did not see one. But the police knew that there was because its body was dragged to the side of the road.
‘There was also the damage to my car with the blood and hairs from the deer on my windscreen.
‘There is not a lot I can do about the legal action. It is out of my hands.’
Ms Simmons said she had been left suffering some long-term effects from the accident.
She said: ‘I now don’t like driving in the dark and come back from work early in the winter so I don’t have to drive in the pitch black.
‘I have also got no feeling on the underside of my arm. The doctors say it is tendon damage and will come back in time, but it hasn’t.
‘My sternum has healed, but it is a bit lopsided so if I cough or sleep on my side, it means I can’t breathe very well.
‘My knees also feel as if they are permanently bruised and I have had to give up pilates.’
The actress, 40, pictured in her Peep Show days alongside co-star Robert Webb, suffered a broken back in collision and says she hasn’t been able to work full time since it happened
Lady Fredrick Windsor was also taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital after the crash and later transferred to London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
She later described the crash in an interview in Hello magazine, saying: ‘It’s very strange, when something huge happens to your body, you don’t immediately feel the pain.
‘I felt lots of warmth and a strange kind of serenity. I felt like my soul was rising up and seeing everything… Yes, I did expect to die. It was extraordinary.
‘I just remember a massive great thwack and then lots of hot blood all over me.
‘I recall heat; I had broken my back and ruptured my abdomen so my belly was torn apart and basically in my lap.
‘I could feel my backbones jiggling around and I thought: ‘I really hope this doesn’t mean anything paralysing.’
She has insisted that she was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, according to legal papers.
She and half-sister Claudia share a father in retired publishing executive Barry Winkleman, 78.
Her mother is children’s author Cindy Black, while Claudia’s is former newspaper editor Eve Pollard, 71.
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