THE GRIEVING families of two young men who were killed in a car crash while under the influence of drugs have sanctioned the release of a video of the accident in the hope that it will make other people aware of the dangers of drug-driving.
The video was shot by the car’s passenger Michael Owen, 21, on his mobile phone as his friend, Kyle Careford, 20, drove Owen’s Renault Clio at speeds of up to 90mph along narrow lanes near Crowborough in Sussex in the early hours of Sunday, 12 April.
The inquest into the deaths of the two friends, held on 6 October, heard that both of them had taken a cocktail of prescribed and illegal drugs that would have resulted in severe toxicity and seriously hampered Careford’s ability to drive. In addition, Careford did not have a licence to drive and was uninsured to drive the car.
On the video both men can be heard laughing and singing as Careford drives the Clio at up to 90mph along the B2100, narrowly missing parked cars and oncoming traffic.
As the car entered a 30mph speed limit near St Michael and All Saints Church in the village of Jarvis Brook, near Crowborough, Careford lost control. The car veered off the road and crashed into the church wall. Both men, who had been wearing seatbelts, were killed instantly.
Witnesses reported how, in the run-up to the crash, they had seen the Clio being driven erratically. A lorry driver told how he came across the Clio parked for no apparent reason in the middle of the road and, as he tried to manoeuvre around it, it sped away. Another witness, a taxi driver, claimed he was forced off the road by the Clio as it raced towards him on the wrong side of the road.
“If all this stops one person from making the same mistake, then some good has come from showing this video.”
The coroner reported a verdict of accidental death.
Speaking after the inquest, Owen’s mother Kat said: “I blame them both for the decisions they took on this night. If all this stops one person from making the same mistake, then some good has come from showing this video.”
Zac Hemming, Careford’s brother, said: “Despite the pain of it being broadcast, we as a family just hope and pray that this will connect with at least one person out there, young or old, so that no one has to experience the unthinkable pain of losing someone so close and dearly loved.”
The video was released by Sussex Police with the permission of the families of the young men. Chief inspector Phil Nicholas of the Surrey and Sussex road policing unit said: “I cannot overstate the courage of both families in working with us to release this video.”
Last March, new legislation came into force that sets limits for how much of a substance – both illegal drugs and prescription medication – a motorist can have in their system while driving.
Suspects can be tested using new roadside equipment that indicates whether a motorist has taken cannabis or cocaine, using a swab from inside the driver’s mouth. They are tested for a series of other drugs after they are taken to a police station.
Sussex Police says that in the period 1 February 2014 and 31 January 2015, it arrested 50 people on suspicion of drug-driving. However, after the new law came into force, it says it arrested double that number between 2 March and 19 July on suspicion of the new offence of driving with a proportion of a controlled drug above the legal limit.