A Fife man wept as he recalled the moment he learned two people had died after being hit by his car.
Liam McWatt wiped away tears as he told his trial his memories of the aftermath of the 2019 crash.
Harry and Shirley Taggerty died at the scene at Glenrothes’ Riverside Park after being hit by McWatt’s Ford Fiesta on July 13.
McWatt, 24, from Glenrothes, denies causing their deaths by dangerous driving.
He told the High Court in Edinburgh he recalled navigating the Rothes Roundabout, near the scene of the fatal collision but nothing else until the moment he found himself upside down in his car.
He said he was unaware of the Taggertys’ fate as he was taken from the wreckage to an ambulance and on to Kirkcaldy’s Victoria hospital.
There, he learned of the fatalities from Dr Nilesh Champanaria.
He said: “He crouched down next to my hospital bed and said ‘I’m not sure if you understand what’s happened, Mr McWatt. You were involved in a car accident in which two people have died’.
“I couldn’t believe it.
“I was so shocked and upset and distraught.”
No memory of collision
Footballer McWatt said he had been due to go on a family holiday in the hours after the crash and was on his way to get cash.
He said he replied to a text message from his then-girlfriend while waiting at traffic lights.
He told his lawyer he had also taken a tobacco product called Snus, which gave him a “head rush” for “a couple of minutes” and he continued to drive.
He then woke “confused” and upside down in his car.
Advocate Michael Meehan KC asked him what he could remember and McWatt replied: “Waking up upside down in my car with my seatbelt on. I didn’t know what had happened.
“I thought that something happened to me.
“I woke up and I was upside down in my car and I thought maybe I had been pushed off the road. I was so confused.”
He said he could hear voices asking him if he was okay and he walked to an ambulance close by “unaided”.
He suffered swelling to his jaw and cuts to his head and forearm.
He said he mentioned “blacking out” to police officers at the scene and they came with him to the hospital.
Told to go on holiday after crash
He said he was comforted by police and they got his mother and girlfriend to come from a hospital waiting room to see him.
He added: “I was crying for much of the day. My mum had to comfort me quite a lot.”
McWatt told Mr Meehan he and his mother then went on holiday.
He said: “Me and my mum were going to stay at home but we were advised by the police officers to go away for a week, given what had happened.”
He said he gave a contact number and would have come back home “if required”.
He also told the court that following the collision, he received help for his mental health and saw a therapist privately for “anxiety and stress”.
The court heard McWatt plays junior football – for Balgonie Scotia at the time of the crash and now Markinch – to a “good standard” and he said he is “fit and healthy”.
He said in the days before the collision he had been feeling unwell and been sent home early from his bank job because his manager thought he looked “terrible.”
Consultant cardiologist Dr Andrew Flapan, who assessed McWatt after the crash at his family’s request gave evidence.
He said it was “rare” for a young and fit person to have cardiac issues, though cases did occur and it was a “real possibility” McWatt had suffered a black-out.
He said McWatt had a low resting blood pressure which would not have to fall far to cause a black-out.
In a letter to the accused’s GP he concluded: “I would be suspicious that Mr McWatt may well have suffered an episode of vasovagal syncope (black-out) whilst driving.”
He noted McWatt had not eaten on the morning of the crash and had been ill for several days prior – hypothesising this had led to low blood sugars and an imbalance of salt and sugar in the blood.
A statement from now-deceased witness Lee Tindall described how Mr Taggerty, 61, had attempted to pull his 58-year-old wife out of the way of McWatt’s vehicle seconds before it struck them.
A police crash investigator said there was no evidence McWatt’s car had braked or that he had attempted to steer away from the couple.
On the opening day of the trial on Tuesday, jurors were told agreed evidence McWatt was the driver of the car which struck and killed the Taggertys, that he passed a breath test and the car had no contributory defects.
McWatt, of Leslie Mains, Leslie, denies driving dangerously, while using a mobile phone and at excessive speed, entering the opposing carriageway into the path of oncoming vehicles.
The charge states he mounted a grass verge and failed to take evasive action prior to striking the couple on the footpath.
The trial before Lord Scott continues.