Half Mag / Half Zine

A dad whose two children died in a horror crash while they were driving home from a football match has issued a plea to people not to drink drive.

Steve Kimberley’s eldest son Matthew, 12, and daughter Lucy, 10, died after a Range Rover driven by an intoxicated man careered into them on the A38 in 1996.

A family friend, 19-year-old Ben Jewell, and the Range Rover driver were also killed in the crash, which left Steve wheelchair bound.

Images of the scene showed how Steve’s car was decimated by the impact – with his car left so damaged that police were unable to identify what type of car it was.

Now, 25 years later, Steve is warning people against getting behind the wheel during World Cup celebrations and in the build-up to Christmas and New Year.

Steve, from Falmouth, Cornwall, had taken Matthew, Lucy and Ben to see Chelsea vs Plymouth Argyle in a pre-season friendly before the horror crash happened.

He said: “After the game we headed back to the car and started our journey home.

‘We got out of Plymouth and got down to Notter Bridge and as we came around the bend to the left and were hit at high speed by a drink driver who was driving a Range Rover.

“It hit us with such speed his car left the ground and landed the other way on the road.”

Steve said he recalled the impact and a silence which likely lasted “only seconds” but seemed to last for a long time while he tried to assess what was happening to him.

“After those few seconds all hell broke loose – the sound of metal, breaking glass and hissing and the smell of diesel,” he said.

“It must have been awful for those who saw it and the emergency services who attended.”

The impact left Ben critically injured, while Lucy was conscious at first despite the impact – having been sat behind her dad.

Matthew died quickly despite attempts by paramedics to save him with CPR.

Trapped and unable to look at his severely injured daughter, Steve sat helplessly as emergency workers began to cut him out of the vehicle while she was treated. Sadly she died soon after.

Steve recalled a coach driver called Gary, who had been driving a load of fans home and had stayed with the family while firefighters tried to cut them out of the car.

“I honestly can’t remember who it was who told me – it might have been a doctor, but it might have been my wife or my father-in-law. They just said ‘the kids are gone’,” he said.

“I thought it was a bad dream. I knew they were hurt but I had this feeling that they were going to be alright. I remember saying to someone ‘this isn’t fair, how is this fair?’.

“The following week Ben’s parents had to take the decision to switch his life support machine off. I can’t imagine what that must have been like for them. He was their only son.

“There’s something very sobering about seeing your children, covered in a white sheet, both in coffins. That was the last time I saw my children. Nobody wants to outlive their kids.”

Steve posts images of his children and their story every year on Facebook to try and prevent anyone under the influence of drink or drugs from driving.

This December he has partnered with Devon & Cornwall Police for their Lift Legend Christmas drink drive campaign, with 110 licensed premises offering soft drinks to designated drivers for free.

He said: “It’s quite simple, if you know you’re going out for a night, you can do a number of things.

“You could have a designated driver who you provide with free coffees and soft drinks for the night. If you can afford to drink, you can afford a taxi or an Uber or a minicab.

“If you’re not too bad, you can walk home safely. Or just don’t drink, because not having a drink won’t kill you.

“If you’re in a group of people and someone is drinking and you know they are thinking of driving, you have a responsibility to do one of several things. Take their keys away, walk them home, call them a cab.

“Never get in a car with a driver if you know they’ve been drinking, you are putting yourself in danger. Park your car in front of theirs so they can’t get out.

“If you’re a publican and you know someone has driven to your pub, you have a responsibility to yourself, that person, their family and anyone else. It’s all about taking responsibility.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Alison Hernandez said drink driving was “completely unacceptable”.

“It puts the driver, passengers and innocent members of the public at substantial risk.”