Families reveal devastation over double death crash

Thomas Southward was killed in September 2010 in a motorway crash near Sandbach in Cheshire.
Thomas Southward was killed in September 2010 in a motorway crash near Sandbach in Cheshire.

THE families of two men killed as they changed a tyre on the M6 motorway have spoken about their devastation for the first time.

Relatives of Haydock grandfather Thomas “Tommy” Southward, 68, and Philip Cawley, 39, of Ashton-in-Makerfield, spoke out after lorry driver Malcolm Simpson, 62, was jailed for six years for each death, to run concurrently, after he was found guilty of two counts of dangerous driving.

Lorry driver Malcolm Simpson

Lorry driver Malcolm Simpson

Simpson’s lorry, which was on its way from Felixstowe docks to Ashton-Under-Lyne, had fatally drifted onto the northbound hard shoulder near Junction 16 at Sandbach as the two men changed a tyre on their van.

In a statement, the families of both men said: “On September 9, 2010, our families were devastated when we were informed by the police that Philip and Tommy had been killed on the hard shoulder of the M6.

“We have found this a very distressing and difficult 16 months for the inquiry to come to trial. We would like to thank everyone who assisted at the time of the incident, Simon Parry QC and the family liaison officers who supported the families through this very trying time.”

A week-long trial at Chester Crown Court heard that Simpson’s lorry was seen being driven erratically prior to the collision with the stationery blue transit van being worked on by Mr Cawley and Mr Southward.

Another HGV driver, Darren Moran, who saw the incident, said that he knew a tragedy was about to unfold - but apart from blasting his lorry horn with both hands - could do nothing to prevent it.

Mr Moran said: “I knew he was going to hit them - they were sitting ducks. I sounded my horn with both hands but the driver of the HGV didn’t react or slow down.

“He hit the blue van on the hard shoulder and I knew straight away that they were dead. I was so shocked... I have never seen anything so horrific in all my life.”

Minutes after the accident Simpson phoned 999 and told the emergency operator and TA medic Nicholas Medway who arrived at the scene that he believed he may have hit someone on the hard shoulder.

But in later interviews he denied having seen the two men at the side of the motorway at all.

Recorder of Chester Judge Elgan Edwards told Simpson: “The tachograph evidence we have heard for the month preceding displayed a somewhat cavalier attitude to taking the required breaks from driving required under the legislation.

“There were one or two incidents of drifting out of your lane beforehand and you should have been warned by that and taken appropriate action.

“But you continued driving, drifted on to the hard shoulder, killing two entirely innocent men going about their business who stood no chance whatsoever.”

Judge Edwards also revealed he was awarding a commendation to TA medic and NHS worker Nicholas Bernard Medway who had been first on the horror scene.

Simpson, of Selby, Yorkshire, who was also disqualified from driving for sevenyears, already had nine points on his driving licence for speeding and traffic light offences committed in HGVs.