American Driver Serves Time for Wrong-Side Crash in Britain

An American who killed three people in a head-on collision after driving on the wrong side of an English road was sentenced Friday to 20 months in prison.

Nathan Doud of Ventura, California, had pleaded guilty to three counts of causing death by dangerous driving. His lawyer, Chris Batty, said the 26-year-old had limited experience driving in Britain and was inadvertently on the wrong side of the road.

Doud, an optical engineer, was driving a rental car from the town of Newcastle to London to catch a flight back to the U.S. when he crashed into another car near Leeds, a city 195 miles (315 kilometers) north of London.

The crash just before midnight immediately killed 51-year old David Bell and passengers Stephen Thackwray, 57, and Brian Lewis, 55.

Judge Geoffrey Marson said that Doud, a father of one, was a "hard working, decent family man," who felt guilt over the accident.

"In this case, driving on the right-hand side of the road was not a deliberate act causing a risk," Marson said. "The risk created rose out of a lack of experience, confusion as to his route and failure to see or understand traffic indicators."

Actor Matthew Broderick was fined $175 for careless driving after he was involved in a car crash that killed a mother and daughter while he was on vacation in Northern Ireland in 1987. Prosecutors said he had been driving on the wrong side of the road. Broderick said at the time he had no recollection of the collision.