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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Barrow family still coming to terms with death

A YOUNG life cut short. A family’s heartbreak that will never fade. In the first of a three part series looking at the effects of speeding.
Reporter AMY FENTON spoke to Sharon and John Pollock, whose 20-year-old son Joey was killed in a high-speed collision five year ago

“NO parent should ever have to bury their child.”

The words of a couple still struggling to cope with the tragic death of their 20-year-old son, five years after a high-speed collision killed him and two of his best friends.

Sharon and John Pollock know only too well the devastating effects of speeding.

Their son Joey was with Grant Huntington and Matthew Salt in the backseat of a car when it smashed head-on into a van and then hit a wall on the A5087 coast road at 70mph. All three were killed.

Mr Pollock said: “He thought he was going to live forever, all young people of that age do. They think they’re invincible.”

The driver of the car, David West, was jailed for five years for causing death by dangerous driving. He was released from prison in December 2007.

Mrs Pollock said: “Young people will continue to risk their own lives, and others, while the sentences and punishments for speeding and the consequences remain so insignificant.

“To read in the Evening Mail about someone who kept their driving licence after being caught going at 81mph on the coast road is a kick in the teeth. Joey died in a car that was believed to have been travelling at 70mph when it hit the van – what chance would anyone have at 81mph?”

The Pollock family have campaigned to reduce the speed limit on the A5087 and want a fixed speed camera on the road. Their determination to prevent future crashes gives them focus, but the pain of losing their beloved son will never fade.

Mrs Pollock said: “The grief is like a gravestone; in the first few weeks they are new and gradually, over time, they age, but it’s always there.”

Every year, Sharon and John attend a church service in Barrow organised by safety charity RoadPeace, to remember those killed or injured on the roads.

“We want young people to see what we’ve gone through, to see how the death of our Joey continues to haunt us. Maybe then they’ll think to themselves ‘I couldn’t bear to see my mum and dad like that’,” Mrs Pollock stressed.

“When Joey died, the people of Barrow mourned too. We must have got about 300 cards from people, most of whom we didn’t even know. People were saying a parent should never have to bury their own child.

“It’s not something you can describe, it’s absolute torture.”

The graves of Joey, Grant and Matthew, known as Tatty, stand together while the spot where they lost their lives on the A5087 is marked permanently by a plaque.

Mr Pollock said: “After the crash, there were so many stories flying around about how it happened, so I went to see the police investigator with my son Shaun. He explained that once a car starts losing control at a speed like that, a crash is inevitable.

“It was speed that killed Joey, Matthew and Grant.”

More than 1,200 friends and family members of the three lads have joined a group on Facebook, set up by Joey’s brother Shaun.

The site – called RIP Joey, Tatty and Grant, is updated daily with poignant messages.

Gemma Pollock was 10 when Joey, her brother and best friend, was killed.

A post she made on the Facebook group on Christmas Day 2009 reads: “Merry christmas boys. jo ya missed the drama today. right up your street i reckon. then again you would of seen it anyway. been thinking about you today. im sure everybody has. same to mathew and grant.

familes are thinking of you all. and obviously christmas isnt the same but well have a good go at it. behave yaself and keep us safe into the new year :)

at the going down of the sun and in the morning we remember them :) x”

The Pollocks believe that something positive can be salvaged from the tragic loss of Joey’s life. They sent out a strong message to youngsters who risk their lives behind the wheel.

“How would they feel if we were their parents? Young people need to realise they’re not untouchable and think about the impact their actions could have on their own families,” Mr Pollock said.

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