LONDON — An American woman who fled Britain after her car collided with a teenage motorcyclist in central England in August while she was driving on the wrong side of the road has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving, British prosecutors said on Friday.
The woman, Anne Sacoolas, the wife of an American diplomat, left for the United States under diplomatic immunity three weeks after the crash, enraging the family of the teenager, Harry Dunn, 19, and starting a diplomatic tug of war as British officials urged her to return.
The British Crown Prosecution Service said on Friday that it had started proceedings but that it was up to the Home Office to decide whether to formally seek Ms. Sacoolas’s extradition through diplomatic channels.
There were no signs, though, that the United States would send Ms. Sacoolas back to Britain. During a meeting between Mr. Dunn’s family and President Trump in the White House in October, Robert C. O’Brien, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, said there were no circumstances under which Ms. Sacoolas would return to Britain, a lawyer for Mr. Dunn’s family has said.
The State Department has said that Ms. Sacoolas is covered by diplomatic immunity and will not be extradited. “We are disappointed by today’s announcement and fear that it will not bring a resolution closer,” a State Department spokeswoman said. “We do not believe that the U.K.’s charging decision is a helpful development.”
Mr. Trump’s intervention did little to quell the anger of Mr. Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn. In the meeting at the White House, Mr. Trump told them that Ms. Sacoolas was in a nearby room and wanted to speak with them, startling the couple. They later described it as a “bombshell” and said they would only meet with Ms. Sacoolas in Britain and on their terms.
The lawyer for the family, Mark Stephens, said that Mr. Trump’s team had “left an olive branch on the table for a political solution” but shut down any possibility of Ms. Sacoolas returning to Britain to face charges.
Janine Smith, chief crown prosecutor, said in a statement on Friday that the police in Northamptonshire, where the crash happened, had been authorized to charge Anne Sacoolas with causing death by dangerous driving.
The diplomatic dispute over Ms. Sacoolas has only added to the strains in a trans-Atlantic relationship that has been tested over and over again during Mr. Trump’s presidency. Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain even asked Mr. Trump to help resolve the dispute.
But Mr. Trump, who has long shown himself willing to feud publicly with British officials, only caused more problems for the Dunn family and the British government by trying to arrange the meeting with Ms. Sacoolas — and then blaming Mr. Johnson for the idea. (The prime minister’s office later denied that Mr. Johnson had suggested that the Dunn family and Ms. Sacoolas meet in that way.)
Mr. Dunn’s family traveled back and forth to the United States in a bid to hold Ms. Sacoolas to account. And British police officers traveled to the United States to interview Ms. Sacoolas as part of their investigation.
Sky News broadcast images of the Dunn family sobbing after they were told on Thursday that Ms. Sacoolas would be charged.
“We believed, we believed and we’ve done it,” Mr. Dunn said. “We’ve got the charge. This is it.”
Ms. Charles could only manage a few words at a time. “Proud that I carried out my promise to one of my kids, the promise that I made that we would get that justice,” she said through tears.
She added, “I would never have rested properly ever without being able to carry out that promise I made him the night we lost him.”
Dominic Raab, the British foreign secretary, said that the charge was “an important step towards justice for Harry and towards solace for his family, but it is not the end.”
He added, “I hope that Anne Sacoolas will now realize the right thing to do is to come back to the U.K. and cooperate with the criminal justice process.”
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