‘He was decapitated by his own bike’ – Redbridge’s Safe Drive Stay Alive campaign
“My first fatal was when I was sitting in traffic and a drunk driver hit a car side on and it flipped over. I saw something fly out of the window. It was a seven year old girl.”
This was how police officer PC Jason Clauson opened his presentation on staying safe on the road to an audience of stunned teenagers.
His talk was part of the hard hitting Safe Drive Stay Alive campaign showing teenagers the very real implications of driving dangerously.
The morning starts off with music producer and artist Harvey Sahota revving up the Year 12 students present at the Kenneth More Theatre, Oakfield Road, Ilford.
The theatre is packed students from Loxford School of Science and Technology, Loxford Lane, Ilford and the Palmer Catholic Academy, Aldborough Road South, Seven Kings.
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The excitement reaches its peak with a head-to-head music battle with victory claimed by the Palmer Catholic Academy.
Then the film starts and the students are brought crashing back down to earth as images flash before them of familiar places around the borough interspersed with newspaper articles of young people who have died on our roads.
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Then the film starts about a young girl going out for the night with a mate after achieving her dream of being in a west end musical. The girls decided to get in a car with two boys who have also been drinking to go to a nearby club.
They then have a horrific crash.
The film stops and real life paramedic Sharon Saudy walks onto the stage in uniform.
In the 12 years she has been a paramedic she said the worst incident she ever saw involved a young couple and their friend who had been for a night out.
“It was carnage,” she said. “The car hit a roundabout, well what was left the car.”
The friend was cycling home but it was cold and raining so decided to take up the offer of a lift from the couple as it was only a short distance.
He jumped in the back and put his bike on his lap for the journey.
“The driver was going 80mph, he lost control and slammed the car into the concrete roundabout,” she said. “The man in the back was decapitated by his own bike. His head was severed from his body. The driver walked out of hospital the next day with minor injuries.”
Then it is back to the film and our four characters are shown trapped in the car and have to be got out by the emergency services something firefighter Peter Watson is very familiar with.
Mr Watson, 44, who works at Ilford Fire Station, High Road, Ilford, spoke about a crash he saw on Valentines Day when a man who was driving too fast hit a pedestrian.
He said the only reason he knew it was a girl was because she was wearing a skirt.
Then it is back to the film again and the police are arriving.
PC Jason Clauson from north-east London traffic garage in Chadwell Heath has the job of informing families in the middle of the night a loved one has died.
“A 19-year-old year old asked me to hold his hand and tell his mum he was sorry as he died. It affects us but I will carry on - I don’t want your families to become one of my families,” he said.
In case any of this seemed too abstract for the teenagers it is rammed home when Cheryl Robbins comes on the stage talk about her 18-year-old son Philip who died in a car crash.
Our last presentation is from Nick Bennett who 10 years ago was driving to work without a seat belt and over the speed limit. He tried to over take a car and lost control.
When he woke up three and a half weeks later he was in hospital.
Doctors said the only reason he survive was because he was a semi-professional footballer and keen snowboarder.
He lost both his legs and suffered a brain injury which meant he now struggles to speak.