Criminal investigation into death of “wonderful” and “loving” Derbyshire mum after holiday hit-and-run is reopened

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A criminal investigation into the death of a Derbyshire mum killed in a hit-and-run in Tenerife has been reopened following a successful legal challenge.

Michelle Exton, from Dronfield, was on holiday in the Canary Islands when she and her mum Ann were hit by a white van which mounted the pavement.

Michelle, aged 50, suffered fatal head injuries. She was taken to hospital but died four days later. Ann, aged 76, suffered serious rib injuries and a back injury in the crash, which happened near the resort of Golf del Sur.

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Spanish police launched a hunt to trace the van driver, but just three weeks after the incident, a judge ‘stayed’ the investigation – meaning the case was closed and police were effectively barred from investigating further.

Michelle, pictured here with her two daughters.Michelle, pictured here with her two daughters.
Michelle, pictured here with her two daughters.

Following the decision Michelle’s family, including daughters, Sophia, 24, and Jess, 15, instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help investigate.

A judge initially rejected an application to re-open the investigation. However, after Irwin Mitchell worked alongside Spanish lawyers and appealed the decision, the Spanish courts has given police permission to resume its investigation.

Sophia said: “Mum was our family. She was the person we all looked up to and went to for help and advice. She was a wonderful, loving, caring and thoughtful person and didn’t deserve to die in the way she did.

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“It almost impossible to find the words to describe what these past few months have been like. We’ve had to endure so much mental torture. Trying to start the process of trying to grieve for mum has been almost impossible given the unanswered questions we still have about what happened.

Michelle and her mum Ann were both hit during the collision.Michelle and her mum Ann were both hit during the collision.
Michelle and her mum Ann were both hit during the collision.

“While time has moved on, it’s stood still for our family. The hardest thing to try and come to the terms with is how mum’s life has been taken away while the driver is probably out there still living their life. We’re just thankful that the Spanish authorities have seen sense and re-opened the investigation.

“We’ve had messages from well-wishers over the last few months and their kind words have brought us some small comfort. However, what we need now is for more people to come forward with information about the collision or the moments before and immediately after.

“Even the smallest piece of information could make all the difference in at least honouring mum’s memory.”

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Michelle and Ann were on a road leading from Las Chafiras to Golf del Sur in the south of the island when the crash happened, at about 8.30pm local time on Sunday, December 11 2022.

Tragically, Michelle passed away four days after the hit-and-run.Tragically, Michelle passed away four days after the hit-and-run.
Tragically, Michelle passed away four days after the hit-and-run.

Following the collision, the driver briefly got out of the vehicle and saw the couple on the ground, before driving off. Ann spent the night in hospital, having sustained rib trauma, cuts and bruises.

The family are appealing for witnesses, including British tourists who will have been on holiday at the time, to come forward with information about the driver and the collision.

The driver is described as a white man, approximately 5ft 8ins tall with a bald or closely shaven head. The passenger side wing mirror of the white van fell off in the collision and was left behind at the scene.

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The family have been told that the van could have been a Mercedes Sprinter, Renault Traffic, a Nissan Primastar or a Vauxhall Vivaro.

James Riley, the specialist international serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Michelle’s family, said: “Michelle’s family remain devastated by her death and the circumstances surrounding it. Trying to come to terms with what happened has been made all the harder by the decision to close the criminal investigation and the subsequent refusal to re-open it.

“All the family have wanted is for the most thorough investigation to be conducted and all lines of inquiry pursued.

“While nothing can make up for what’s happened, we’re pleased that following our legal submissions, the courts in Spain have agreed to reopen the criminal investigation. This decision gives hope to the family that the driver involved in the collision will be traced and they’ll receive the answers they deserve regarding Michelle’s death.

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“We continue to support Sophia, Jess and Ann and appeal for those with information about the collision to come forward.”

Anyone with information about the collision or the van or driver, is asked to contact James Riley at Irwin Mitchell on 0121 203 5361 or email [email protected].