A grieving husband has told how he drove by the scene of a fatal road smash – not realising the victim was his wife.
Bolaji Onifade, 43, was heading to work when he noticed police and paramedics tending to a pedestrian lying critically injured after being hit while crossing on October 25, 2021.
He only learned the casualty was wife Ibizugbe, 38, when he arrived at his IT firm in Salford, Greater Manchester, 20 minutes later and was told the police wished to speak to him.
The driver, Mohammed Chowdhury, had been on his phone and topped 90mph while zipping in and out of traffic in a powerful £200,000 Mercedes G-Wagon moments before the collision.
One motorist described the 22-year-old’s speed as being so great it caused his own car to ‘shake as he drove past’.
Receptionist Mrs Onifade, who had that morning declined her husband’s offer of a lift home because she was doing overtime, died later that night after suffering multiple serious injuries.
Chowdhury, who had a previous conviction for driving without insurance and had attended a speed awareness course months earlier, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.
He was jailed for five-and-a-half years at Manchester Crown Court and handed a road ban of eight years and nine months.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Onifade revealed how he got a sudden urge to call his wife as he passed the scene but could not get through to her.
He said: ‘That day changed my life forever. When I heard the news, I felt like I had come to the end of the world. What will I do without my wife?’
He described how he and his wife, ‘a lively and friendly person’, married after meeting at Salford University.
‘We had been trying for a baby and were considering IVF before Covid set us back,’ he went on.
‘She would have been a wonderful mother.
‘People should not be able to drive such high-powered cars when they are so young. If he had been driving sensibly, I would still have my wife.’
Recalling the events of that day, he told the court: ‘We went shopping in the morning and took our little nephew out with us.
‘Then I took her to work, but before leaving I told her, “you haven’t said goodbye to the little one”.
‘I offered to pick her up from work later but she said she would take a bus home as she was doing overtime. I was on night shift so went to work later.
‘When I was driving along Ashton New Road, I noticed flashing police lights from across the road and thought there must have been an incident. Something told me to call my wife, but she didn’t pick up. I got my cousin, to try and call her, but she also didn’t pick up.
‘When I eventually got to work 20 minutes later, I got a call from my wife’s employer to say that there had been an incident and that police were going to attend my address.
‘I thought the police don’t attend your address when it isn’t serious. I left work and came home, where they told me the news.’
Mr Onifade went on: ‘We had been together for 10 years. She had studied quantitative business at Salford University and got her masters at a university in Nigeria.
‘We enjoyed each other’s company, doing normal things all couples like to do. Going to church and socialising with friends. She also loved watching films.
‘She has four sisters, two brothers and a mother back in Nigeria. I just pray that they are OK.’
Brian Berlyne, prosecuting, told the court the crash occurred at around 9pm when, although dark out, ‘the street was well lit’ and the road – with a 30mph speed limit – was dry.
He said another motorist was overtaken by a blue Mercedes-Benz 4×4 ‘going at such speed that his own vehicle shook’, describing it as being more like what ‘you would expect on the motorway’.
An off-duty police officer spotted the same car racing past him but lost it when the driver jumped a red light, the prosecutor said.
Mr Berlyne went on: ‘At around the same time, the victim had just finished her work as a receptionist and made her way towards Alan Turing Way to catch a bus home.
‘She crossed the road near the interchange with Ashton Old Road and managed to reach the central reservation.
‘She then looked around and believing the second half of the road was clear, she stepped out. She was then almost immediately struck by the defendant’s vehicle.’
He added: ‘Although it was never fully confirmed the speed at which he was driving at the time, a police reconstruction of the incident measured his speed before the collision to be between 79 and 91 mph.
‘He did immediately slow down when he saw the victim and was estimated to have been at between 40 to 50mph at that point.
‘The victim was wearing dark clothing but would have been seen regardless due to the bright road lighting.’
Defending, Mohammed Nawaz said: ‘[Chowdhury] acquired an interest in cars at a young age, and by 14 he was spending more time fixing up care than he was spending at school.
‘His family own a successful textile business that he worked for briefly. Their success allowed him to have access to fast and high-powered vehicles.’
But Judge Timothy Clayson told Chowdhury: ‘It is clear that you have a tendency for sensation seeking and risk-taking behaviour.
‘This was a built-up area where pedestrians were likely to be present and crossing the road. You made no consideration of that fact.
‘You were distracted and driving at a grossly excessive speed in a built-up area- and this resulted in disastrous consequences.’
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