A Borders family has been stuck in the Ukraine for more than a month after a nightmare saga involving a horror crash and red tape bureaucracy.
Nicholas Weeks, his wife Natasha and their one-year-old daughter, Mary, are languishing in the city of Dnepropetrovosk in the former Soviet republic after a serious road accident which saw them injured, arrested by police and forced to remain in the country, as Mr Weeks will be a witness at the subsequent trial.
It was in March that problems first arose when Mr Weeks, who runs a holiday cottage business in the Ettrick Valley and is disabled by arthritis, went on a long-distance driving holiday in eastern Europe – which would culminate in his wedding in the Ukraine.
A Russian speaker who lived in the country for more than 20 years, Mr Weeks took out special insurance and breakdown cover, and went travelling with permission of the charity, Motability, which leases cars to disabled drivers.
But after his BMW suffered a double tyre blowout near Moscow, Mr Weeks claims that, despite hundreds of phonecalls, Motability and RAC France – which provides European breakdown cover for the charity – left him stranded for 14 days. And he says he was then left in Hungary for another nine days in May, after a wheel and suspension unit fell off the same car, before help was provided.
Then, at the beginning of August, Mr Weeks, his Ukranian-born partner Natasha and their baby were in the Ukraine for the couple’s wedding.
And it was there, on August 10, that the family narrowly escaped death when their BMW was involved in the collision with a lorry.
The smash left Mrs Weeks with glass embedded in the side of her face, arms and legs and saw her husband suffer whiplash.
Speaking from the Ukraine this week, Mr Weeks accused Motability and RAC France of an appalling lack of service.
He said: “We’ve been here almost a month, in and out of police stations and hospitals.
“They don’t want to pay for anything, despite us having correct insurance for these types of situations and have ignored our claim for assistance.”
Asked to comment, Motability told us: “Mr Weeks’ experience in the Ukraine was complex and while sympathetic to his mobility problems, we’ve been in regular contact with him over recent months, and are satisfied that we’ve provided an appropriate level of service throughout.”