Best friend who supported cancer sufferer through treatment killed in drug-driver crash

A WOMAN has told of her heartache at her best friend being killed in a car crash due to the actions of a drug-driver.

Saturday, 26th May 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 9:01 am
Drug-driver Steven Agar was jailed for causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed limit for cannabis

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Michelle Hill had just finished her last cancer treatment at The Haven in Titchfield last year and she was travelling away from the centre with her husband Michael and best friend Gena Close.

But tragedy unfolded when drug-driver Steven Agar, of Harris Road, Gosport, was overtaking on a bend in his Audi A4 and lost control crashing into the trio’s Mazda at 5.05pm on the A32 near Droxford.

Despite efforts from the emergency services, rear seat passenger Mrs Close, 56, was unable to be revived.

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Steven Agar, 36, of Harris Road, Gosport, appeared at Portsmouth Crown Court where he admitted causing death by careless driving under the influence of cannabis in a crash on the A32 Wickham Road

Agar was yesterday jailed for 42 months after admitting death by careless driving while being over the prescribed cannabis drug limit

Speaking at the sentencing yesterday, Michelle said: ‘I have known Gena for 23 years. We met at a mothers and toddlers’ group. Gena and myself became best mates.’

After Gena’s husband Pete Close died in 2015, she moved to Amesbury to be closer to friends and family.

Michelle, 57, said: ‘When I was diagnosed with cancer she became a support. She came to every appointment. She was a part of our family.’

Michelle turned to Agar and his family in the public gallery while talking about love and forgiveness.

Agar, 37, who passed his driving test 12 months prior to the incident, was drug tested by police at the scene and was 0.3 micrograms over the limit.

PC Dave Mitchell, from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: ‘Had Agar decided not to take cannabis prior to driving, and had he not made a reckless overtake, then this collision and its tragic consequences would not have happened.’

Mitigating, Paul Walker said Agar was remorseful and was moved by Mrs Hill’s speech on forgiveness.

Agar has not driven since the crash on August 23, 2017, has not smoked cannabis since October and has been diagnosed with PTSD. He had used cannabis while trying to deal with his grandfather’s death.

Addressing Agar, judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘It has of course brought devastation in the family and close friends of the deceased.

‘I don’t overlook that your life and that of your family has been permanently and substantially changed by these events and its aftermath.’

Dad-of-one Agar was banned from driving for 57 months.

A victim personal statement from Gena’s son Jack was read to the court. He said: ‘Losing my mum was like losing my best friend.’