Our Drive For Justice campaign is calling for changes in the law to make sentencing fit the crime for those who kill or seriously injure people on our roads.
Today, AASMA DAY talks to teenager Jack Goodison whose sister Rebecca was killed while crossing the road in Wigan about the horrendous implications for bereaved families who have lost a loved one in a crash ...
With her arms laden with Easter eggs, a joyous Rebecca Harrison had just been to her gran’s house and was happily returning home to her mum’s with her haul of chocolate.
The 10-year-old could not hold her dad’s hand as her arms were so full of chocolate eggs so he held on to her hood instead as they prepared to cross the road to get to the car.
The road they were crossing in Ashton-in-Makerfield had a 30mph speed limit and they didn’t see the speeding car hurtling into their path until it was too late.
Rebecca’s dad grabbed her back by her hood to try to pull her to safety - but the hood became detached and the youngster was thrown half the length of a football pitch by the force of the crash.
Coping with this got too much for my grandad and 10 years after Rebecca’s death, he committed suicideJack Goodison
She died at the scene from her massive injuries.
Jack Goodison, 17, who lives with his mum Amanda in Ashton-in-Makerfield, was only three at the time of the tragedy but still has vivid recollections of that fateful night.
He recalls: “I can remember my mum getting worried that Rebecca wasn’t back and then there was a knock on the door and it was a policeman telling her Rebecca had been in a road accident.
“I can remember going to the hospital and everyone was crying. My mum tells me I wouldn’t accept it when she told me my big sister wasn’t coming back.
“I have memories of Rebecca being my big sister who took me out and pushed me in my pram. She was like my best friend.”
The effects of Rebecca’s death on the family were far reaching and everyone struggled to come to terms with the sudden, horrific manner of the youngster’s death.
The motorist who caused the crash was estimated in court to have been driving at 51mph.
He was later jailed for six years for causing death by dangerous driving, but served four years.
Jack says: “When they did the autopsy, they said Rebecca’s injuries were some of the worst sustained in a car accident they had ever seen.
“All the bones in her body were broken.
“It affected my life in many ways. Experiencing such a tragedy at such a young age affected me emotionally and you always carry it around in your head.
“The road where Rebecca was killed was literally just around the corner from where my school was.
“I had to walk past it every day. It was horrible as I had that constant reminder.
“Knowing what had happened to my sister made me very wary of roads and when I was starting high school, my mum was very protective of me and understandably so.”
However, the implications of Rebecca’s death led to far deeper repercussions when Rebecca’s grandfather Fred Harrison, who had doted on his granddaughter found the heartache of losing her too much to bear and ended up taking his own life.
Jack explains: “My grandad was very close to Rebecca and her death affected him greatly.
“He loved all his grandchildren and we practically lived next door to each other.
“His pain was made worse by the fact the person who caused her death did not get a long sentence and was out a lot sooner.
“Coping with this got too much for my grandad and 10 years after Rebecca’s death, he committed suicide.
“Everyone says that as time goes by, you forget, but you don’t. It stays with you.”
Jack, who is studying at Wigan and Leigh College and is also training to be a shop supervisor, is mature beyond his years and his own tragedy has made him determined to spread awareness of road safety.
Jack is an ambassador for Brake the road safety charity and has been giving presentations for the charity and talking about his family’s ordeal for quite a few years.
Jack says: “My mum became involved with Brake and did a parachute jump for the charity when I was about nine.
“I grew up being fully aware of road safety and the effects of road tragedies on families.
“When I was about 13, Brake contacted my mum and asked if she would like to do a speech at an event.
“My mum did not really want to do it so I offered to do it as I had done some public speaking.
“Since then, I have been an ambassador for Brake and speak in schools around Wigan about road safety and have done fund-raising events. My mum has taken a step back from her work with Brake but she always helps me.”
Jack feels passionate about increasing awareness about road dangers and is fully backing our Drive For Justice campaign calling for harsher punishments for drivers who kill on the roads.
Jack explains: “I think the Drive For Justice campaign is great and everyone involved with road safety has waited a long time for something like this.
“There are other crimes that receive much more serious punishments so why should road deaths be treated any differently?
“At the end of the day, someone has been killed or seriously injured.
“The culprit should have the exact same punishment as someone who has gone out and murdered someone - especially if they have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol or have been driving dangerously by speeding.
“Driving dangerously is just as bad as someone who goes out and kills someone with a gun. A car is a weapon in the wrong hands just like a gun. By driving recklessly, that driver has made the choice to kill a person by putting their life at risk.
“Whether it is speeding, drinking or drugs, they have taken that risk fully knowing the consequences.”
Jack says he still thinks about Rebecca every day and for his mum, life has never been the same.
Jack explains: “Losing a child turns your world upside down and it has been very difficult for my mum and the rest of the family.
“I have a little brother who is now 11. He has just got past the age Rebecca was when she was killed.
“He lost his sister and never got a chance to meet her.
“Rebecca was loved by everyone and is missed so much. Her death was so sudden, no one had the chance to say goodbye. Rebecca has also missed out on so much herself. She was only 10 and had her whole life ahead of her.
“She has friends the same age who are now 24 and getting engaged or married or having children.
“I think there should be much harsher sentences for those who kill on the roads.
“What gives them the right to live their life when they have taken someone else’s?
“People are getting away with crimes on the road too lightly. It is time for a change in the law to make their punishment fit the crime.”
Rebecca’s mum Amanda Goodison said: “Rebecca was a happy, beautiful child and from the moment she was born she filled the room with her infectious smile and great sense of humour.
“The day she was killed was the worst day of my life and it haunts me to this day. Part of my heart died with her on that day and the rest kept going for my other children.
“The death of Rebecca had a ripple effect throughout the family as she was a much loved and very big part of our extended family.
“Not a day goes by that she isn’t still mentioned in our household and other family’s households and I miss her more than I could ever explain to you every minute of every day.
“Rebecca’s death had a tragic effect on my father as he could no longer live with her death so took his own life and in his hands he held a photo of his beautiful granddaughter.
“It is hard enough knowing my daughter has died but knowing her life was taken by someone speeding is devastating.
“If he had only thought about the consequences that night then Rebecca’s death could have been avoided
“I don’t feel his sentence reflected his crime at all. He was given six years but served four, mostly in an open prison with visits from his parents and friends.
“This is no punishment for the life of a 10-year-old little girl who had her whole life to lead.
“ The only visits I get with my daughter now is when I go to her grave and lay flowers.
“Every time I do this, my heart rips a little bit more.
“I fully back the Drive For Justice campaign as I feel tougher sentences will work as a deterrent to drivers who continue to speed despite knowing the devastating damage they can cause to others.”