Anne Sacoolas is the U.S. diplomat’s wife who fled from the United Kingdom to America after a crash that killed 19-year-old British motorcyclist Harry Dunn in Northamptonshire, Sky News reports. She has claimed diplomatic immunity.
The 42-year-old Sacoolas is married to Jonathan Sacoolas, public records show. It is not clear what position he holds in the U.S. government that has provided him and his wife diplomatic immunity. The couple lives near RAF Croughton, a British Royal Air Force base currently being used by the U.S. Air Force as a communications station. Sky News referred to it as a “spy base.”
Sacoolas had only been in the U.K. for three weeks, The Telegraph reports.
Dunn was killed in a head-on collision near the base on August 27. His family and British government officials have spoken out about the incident in order to call for justice for Dunn, encouraging Sacoolas to return to Britain to face questioning and potential charges. She has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing at this point. Officials in the U.K. have encouraged the U.S. to waive Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said October 7, “I do not think that it can be right to use the process of diplomatic immunity for this type of purpose. I hope that Anne Sacoolas will come back and will engage properly with the processes of law as they are carried out in this country. That’s a point that we’ve raised or are raising today with the American Ambassador here in the U.K., and I hope it will be resolved very shortly. And to anticipate a question you might want to raise, if we can’t resolve it then of course I will be raising it myself personally with the White House.”
Trump, on October 9, said he spoke to Johnson on the phone about the incident. “We’re going to speak to her very shortly and see if we can do something. It was an accident, a terrible accident,” Trump told reporters. “We’re going to speak with her and see what we can come up with, so that there can be some healing. “There’s tremendous anger over it. It’s a terrible incident, there’s tremendous anger, and I understand the anger from the other side.”
Dunn’s parents were planning to go to the White House on October 15, but it was not clear if they would be meeting with Trump.
“It has been claimed that Sacoolas can claim diplomatic immunity, protecting her from prosecution. However, the family dispute this, and in the past few days, a letter from UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab has stated that Sacoolas cannot claim diplomatic immunity. The family believes that Sacoolas should return to the United Kingdom so that a fair process can bring some resolution to this awful tragedy,” the Dunn family said in a statement.
The parents added, “We are grateful for the invitation, which we hope represents a positive development in our fight for justice. Our priority, as any parent will understand, is justice for our child. We believe this can only be achieved if Anne Sacoolas returns to England and engages properly with the justice system, where she will be treated fairly in a proper investigation of what happened to our son on that day – an investigation that cannot happen without her co-operation. Friends tell each other the truth. If Britain and America are friends then we believe there should be no possibility of a citizen of one country hiding from justice in another while falsely claiming a privilege such as diplomatic immunity.”
The U.S. State Department issued a statement to CBS News on Monday expressing sympathy and condolences to Dunn’s family but added, “questions regarding a waiver of immunity with regard to our diplomats and their family members overseas in a case like this receive intense attention at senior levels and are considered carefully given the global impact such decisions carry; immunity is rarely waived.”
Sacoolas and her husband could not be reached for comment by Heavy and it is not clear if they have hired an attorney.
Sacoolas issued a statement through her attorneys at the firm Arnold & Porter, saying she wanted to meet with the Dunn family to “apologize and take responsibility.”
Here’s what you need to know about Anne Sacoolas:
1. Anne Sacoolas — Who Struck Harry Dunn With Her Car While on the Wrong Side of the Road — Was Encouraged to Leave Britain by Someone on the American Side, Sky News Reports
Anne Elizabeth Sacoolas struck and killed 19-year-old Harry Dunn with her Volvo XC90 while driving the wrong way on August 27, police said. The crash occurred near the Air Force base. Dunn was riding a Kawasaki motorcycle.
According to The Telegraph, Sacoolas’ 12-year-old son was in the front seat of her car at the time of the crash. The newspaper reports that Sacoolas admitted liability after getting out of her car. But when police went to her home at the Croughton base and told her Dunn had died, lawyers and U.S. Embassy officials stepped in.
Northamptonshire Police Superintendent Sarah Johnson said in a statement, “We can confirm that a 42-year-old American woman being treated as a suspect in our investigation into a fatal road traffic collision on the B4031 Park End, Croughton, on Tuesday, August 27, has left the country.”
Johnson added, “Northamptonshire Police followed all of its usual procedures following the incident, including liaising closely with the suspect, who engaged fully with us at the time and had previously confirmed to us that she had no plans to leave the country in the near future. Due process was also followed in seeking the necessary documentation to allow for the arrest and formal interview of the suspect, and the Force is now exploring all opportunities through diplomatic channels to ensure that the investigation continues to progress.”
According to Sky News, someone on the American side told Sacoolas to leave Britain. In a statement, the U.S. State Department declined to name Sacoolas and her husband, citing security and privacy considerations.
“We express our deepest sympathies and offer condolences to the family of the deceased in the tragic Aug. 27 traffic accident involving a vehicle driven by the spouse of a U.S. diplomat assigned to the United Kingdom. We can confirm the family has left the U.K.,” the State Department said.
The statement added, “Any questions regarding a waiver of immunity with regard to our diplomats and their family members overseas in a case like this receive careful attention at senior levels are considered carefully given the global impact such decisions carry; immunity is rarely waived.”
Northamptonshire Police said in a statement, “We are also working closely with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in an effort to come to a resolution regarding this matter. Harry Dunn’s family deserve justice and in order to achieve this, a full and thorough investigation, with the assistance of all parties involved, needs to take place.“Northamptonshire Police is committed to ensuring justice for Harry and specially trained officers continue to support the Dunn family in their loss, including keeping them fully informed of all developments in the investigation.”
President Trump told reporters about Sacoolas driving on the wrong side of the road before the crash, “That can happen, those are the opposite roads. I won’t say it ever happened to me, but it did.”
Sacoolas said in a statement from her attorneys, “Anne was driving on the wrong side of the road and had no time to react when she saw the motorbike – the crash happened too fast. Anne stayed on the scene of the accident to assist. She spoke to Harry Dunn to tell him that she would call for help. She waved down another car. That driver pulled over and offered to assist Harry so that Anne could comfort her young children, who had been in her car and were on the scene.”
Her attorneys added, “She and her family left the United Kingdom approximately three weeks after the accident, after they and the US authorities determined that it would be difficult for the couple and their children to remain in the small Croughton community under these tragic circumstances. She and her family returned home on a commercial flight. Our understanding is that the British authorities were informed and aware of their departure before they returned to the United States.”
2. She & Her Husband Have 2 Young Children & Own a Home in Virginia & She Was Ticketed in Her Home State for Failing to ‘Pay Full Time & Attention’
Anne Sacoolas and her husband, Jonathan Sacoolas, 43, have been married since 2003. They have two young children, both sons, according to her Pinterest profile. It is not clear what job Jonathan Sacoolas currently has within the U.S. government.
The couple owns a home in Fairfax County, Virginia, according to a home sales list from The Washington Post. They purchased the house in the Vienna area in 2015 for $770,000.
In 2006, Sacoolas was cited in Fairfax County, Virginia, for failure to pay full time and attention, a traffic ticket. She does not appear to have any other offenses on her record. She paid a fine on that infraction in 2007.
Public records show that Sacoolas and her husband are both Republicans.
3. Sacoolas — Born Anne Goodwin in South Carolina — Is Herself a Former State Department Employee Who Has a Psychology Degree
Anne Sacoolas was born Anne Goodwin in South Carolina, according to a wedding announcement published in 2003 in the Aiken Standard, her hometown newspaper. She graduated from South Aiken High School and then studied at the University of South Carolina, where she earned a degree in psychology, according to the wedding announcement.
At the time of her wedding, Sacoolas was working for the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. It is not clear what role she had at the State Department. She and her husband, Jonathan Sacoolas, were married on April 12, 2003, at Wakefield Chapel in Annandale, Virginia.
Jonathan Sacoolas is originally from Salem, Oregon, and graduated from South Salem High School and the University of Southern California, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering. At the time of his wedding, he was working for the Department of Defense in Washington D.C.
Radd Seiger, a lawyer representing the Dunn family, told The Sun that Sacoolas was a senior spy abased in the U.K. “He was working at Croughton, which is a communications base, so he was working with intelligence which is, I guess, why it has been handled in the way that it has,” Seiger told the British newspaper.
4. A Deal Reached Between the U.S. & the U.K. in 1994 Provided Diplomatic Immunity to Those at the RAF Croughton Base, According to Sky News
According to Sky News, the only diplomats with immunity in the U.K. are typically those stationed in London. But a special arrangement between the U.S. and the U.K. has been in place since 1994 for RAF Croughton.
Tim Dunn, Harry Dunn’s father, told Sky News, “It’s appalling, you can’t have this precedence where you can have this immunity. It’s basically saying you can do what you like and you’ll be okay – it’s wrong. That can’t be right.”
Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles, called the diplomatic immunity “inhumane,” according to Sky News.
Government officials from the U.K. have called on Sacoolas to return to the country to face questioning and be held accountable for the crash.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement, “We cannot speculate on what actions the British Government may take. While we are in close consultation with the appropriate British officials, we cannot comment on private diplomatic conversation with the British Government.”
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement, “I wish to offer my condolences to the family affected by this tragic incident. I have called the US Ambassador to express the UK’s disappointment with their decision and to urge the Embassy to re-consider it.”
Dunn’s family has appealed directly to President Donald Trump.
“President Trump, please listen. We’re a family in ruin. We’re broken,” the family said in a statement. “We can’t grieve. Please, please let her get back on a plane.”
U.S. Ambassador Woody Johnson sent a letter to the family expressing “profound sadness,” according to Sky News.
5. Dunn’s Family Has Started a GoFundMe & Facebook Page to Raise Awareness About the Case & Have Said ‘No One Is Above the Law’
His mother, Charlotte Charles, told Sky News, “If we don’t get justice we’ll try and use money to get the law changed so people can’t kill and go away.”
According to the GoFundMe, “Harry leaves behind a devastated mother and father Charlotte and Tim, twin brother Niall, step parents Bruce and Tracey and a large close knit family who are struggling to come to terms with the tragic and abrupt end to Harry’s life. The police have now confirmed that Harry was riding perfectly safely on the night of the crash travelling on his own side of the road when he collided with an oncoming vehicle being driven on the wrong side of the road.
The GoFundMe adds:
Harry lived his short life to the fullest with his twin brother and three other brothers and a sister. Harry was bubbly and outgoing and from the age of seven he shared a passion for riding motorbikes with his Gramps and step-dad. That passion eventually grew to become his main interest in life and Harry lived for riding spending all his wages on fuel for his bike. He loved to get out on the road and explore the countryside, with Portland Bill being one of his favourite places. But his travels took him all over the UK and by the age of 19 he had racked up an incredible 50,000 on his bikes, making him a highly experienced, safe and capable rider. The family take enormous comfort from the fact that his riding at the time of the collision was not to blame for the accident.
Harry’s other passion, which he shared with his Dad Tim, was supporting their local football club Northampton Town.
Harry’s love for his family and friends however outshone everything and made him the caring and loving young man he was. The family are so pleased to see how much Harry was loved by so many, as demonstrated by the huge turnout for his funeral.
According to the GoFundMe, “Harry’s loss has left an enormous hole in the lives of the family and they are understandably going through a shattering and life changing time. This funding page is being set up to help the family and his twin brother Niall through these traumatic times and to build up a fund as the family embark on a campaign to search for Justice for Harry as the legal process unfolds. We will update this page as frequently as we can. In the meantime, we would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for any amount of money you are able to donate, no matter how big or small.”