Grieving mother speaks out about the devastation caused by drink driving
Main article content
The mother of a 15-year-old girl who was killed by a drink driver has urged people to not risk getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol this winter.
Karen Marchant is supporting Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary's Op Holly campaign, which sees officers stepping up enforcement of drink and drug driving throughout December each year.
Her daughter Rebecca was killed in a fatal road traffic collision on Hordle Lane in Lymington in February 2016.
Rebecca was staying with a friend when the then 34-year-old driver, who was meant to be looking after her, crashed his black E350 Mercedes Sport into a tree, killing the teenager instantly.
Rebecca was the front seat passenger but he also had his own daughter and eight-year-old niece in the back. He ran away from the scene and when arrested a few hours later was twice over the drink drive limit and had traces of cannabis in his system.
The driver was sentenced to four years and four months in prison and banned from driving for five years and two months at Bournemouth Crown Court in March 2016.
Operation Holly aims to clamp down on those who drive while impaired through drink or drugs, in a bid to stop devastating collisions like this happening.
Supporting our campaign this year, Karen said: "I've always said drink driving is like playing Russian roulette. People get away with it a few times but then the fifth of sixth time they do it something terrible can happen.
"My daughter was only 15 when she was killed by a drink driver. She had her whole life ahead of her. Then she was gone in the blink of an eye.
"Drink driving devastates lives. Rebecca's grandparents have never gotten over it, because nobody expects to outlive their grandchildren. It is us that have been left with a life sentence really because we think about her every day. She's with me every single day, even though she's not.
"It's nearly seven years since she passed, it feels like so much less than that, but there is this big hole in our lives.
"If you kill someone drink driving, that will destroy your life as well and it's like throwing a stone in a pool, the ripples through their family and your family and friends, it affects so many lives.
"I made that same journey Rebecca had made that night with police afterwards and it only took four minutes if you drove at a normal speed.
"That's where people think it won't happen to them, when they are close to home and know the roads and are comfortable so they think they can get away with having a drink. People tend to take more care and plan when they are going on a long trip, but this just shows that you can't risk it, even on shorter journeys.
"If you get behind the wheel after drinking, that car becomes a dangerous weapon in your hands because you are not in control.
"If you are with friends or family and you know someone else has been drinking, make sure they don't drive. If I didn't stop someone when I knew they had been drinking and something happened I don't know how I could live with myself, so don't let that happen to your friends. Call a taxi or let them crash on your sofa for the night instead.
"This winter, take responsibility for you and your loved ones. Please don't drink or drug drive. It's not worth the risk."