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Downing Street Crash Victim Returns

January 17, 2000

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ An American tourist hit by a car that smashed into the gates guarding the British prime minister’s residence will likely need surgery for her severely damaged leg, relatives say.

Ursula Webster, 39, remained hospitalized Sunday night at St. Barnabas Medical Center in her hometown of Livingston, N.J., after returning to the United States earlier in the day.

Her condition was unavailable, but ``she’s in excruciating pain,″ said her aunt, Ann Chrzaszcz. ``Her leg is shattered.″

Webster was injured Saturday afternoon at No. 10 Downing Street _ British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s home _ when a car skidded and crashed near a cluster of tourists.

Witnesses said Webster flung her 8-year-old son out of the way just before she was hit and thrown 15 feet into the air. He, along with her husband and their two other sons, were not seriously hurt.

As a result, one London newspaper dubbed her the ``Heroine of Downing Street.″

``It happened so fast. My husband ... yelled out. I pushed my one son out of the way and I got hit,″ Webster told The Star-Ledger of Newark in today’s editions. ``As I was being thrown in the air, I could feel the bones breaking.″

Chrzaszcz said Webster told other relatives that British doctors had told her she would need surgery to put pins in her knee and ankle.

Police filed charges Sunday against the driver of the car.

Stephen Bonnett, 26, of Chelmsford, east of London, was charged with causing grievous bodily harm and dangerous driving, police said. He was due to appear in court today.

It remained unclear whether Bonnett is suspected of deliberately crashing into the ornate black iron gates or whether he simply lost control of the car.

Webster’s mother, Teresa Wnuk, said her daughter’s family went inside the gates that block access to No. 10 Downing Street to take photographs because the Websters have a similar address in the United States. They live at 10 Downing Place in Livingston.

``She got permission to go inside the gate because of having the same address,″ Wnuk said.

Blair and his family were at the British prime minister’s country residence, Chequers, when the crash occurred. Blair has asked to be kept informed of Ms. Webster’s condition and would be writing to her, aides said.

The prime minister’s official residence is visible through the gates that seal the end of Downing Street _ a short street leading on to Whitehall, the seat of government.

Update hourly