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Trump calls death of British teen a ‘terrible accident,’ says driving on wrong side of the road ‘happens’

Charlotte Charles, Harry Dunn's mother, holds a picture of her son during an interview with CBS News. (Screenshot/CBS News)

LONDON — President Trump said Wednesday that a British teenager killed in a crash allegedly caused by the wife of a U.S. diplomat was the victim of a “terrible accident,” adding that driving on the wrong side of the road “happens.”

He made the remarks at a news conference to which he carried briefing notes saying that the woman, who left the country after the crash, would not return to Britain, as British authorities have requested.

British police say 19-year-old Harry Dunn was killed by 42-year-old suspect Anne Sacoolas when her Volvo SUV struck his motorcycle in August. Surveillance video indicates that Sacoolas, who is American, was driving “on the wrong side of the road” on the night of the fatal crash, police said. British media reported that she had recently arrived in the country, leading to a theory that she may have been unaccustomed to driving on the left, as is the rule in Britain.

Following the fatal crash, Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity under international law, allowing her to avoid prosecution and return to the United States — despite telling officials she had no plans to do so.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Oct. 7 that it was wrong for a woman involved in a fatal crash to have used diplomatic immunity to leave the U.K. (Video: UK POOL)

“The woman was driving on the wrong side of the road. And that can happen, you know. Those are the opposite roads. That happens. I won’t say it ever happened to me, but it did,” Trump told reporters Wednesday.

“So a young man was killed. The person that was driving the automobile has diplomatic immunity. We’re going to speak to her very shortly and see if we can do something where they meet,” he added.

Dunn’s parents have frequently expressed hope that Trump would consider waiving diplomatic immunity so that Sacoolas could be held accountable in the British legal system. However, the U.S. Embassy noted in a statement that “immunity is rarely waived.”

Despite Trump’s suggestion that a meeting between Sacoolas and Harry Dunn’s grieving parents might be possible, Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford captured a shot at the news conference of Trump’s National Security Council briefing notes, labeled “Secret,” that appeared to contradict that idea. One note read: “(If Raised) Note, as Secretary Pompeo told Foreign Secretary [Dominic] Raab, that the spouse of the U.S. Government employee will not return to the United Kingdom.”

The Dunn case has sparked controversy at home and abroad and placed the issue of diplomatic immunity under intense scrutiny. Since Harry Dunn’s death, his parents, Tim Dunn and Charlotte Charles, have tirelessly campaigned for justice, calling on British and American officials to help hold Sacoolas accountable.

Parents of teen killed in crash blamed on U.S. diplomat’s wife call on Trump to intervene

After meeting Wednesday with Raab, the British foreign secretary the parents said they were “no further forward” and told Sky News they were “disgusted.” They said they felt they had been “ extremely let down” by both the British and U.S. governments.

“Part of me is feeling like it was just a publicity stunt on the U.K. government side to show they are trying to help,” Charles said before vowing to continue her fight to obtain justice for her son.

“I’m deeply, deeply disappointed that they think it’s okay to kill a young lad on his bike and they can just walk away,” Tim Dunn added.

On Tuesday, the parents said they had heard “absolutely nothing” from the Sacoolas family since the fatal collision.