A prominent road safety charity has praised the ‘brave’ decision by the families of two young men from Tunbridge Wells who died after their car collided with a church in Crowborough to release footage of their final moments.
The harrowing video shows the minutes before driver Kyle Careford, 20, and passenger Michael Owen, 21, struck the wall of St Michael and All Saints church at 90 miles per hour on April 12.
They died instantly on impact, despite both wearing their seatbelts, with the coroner recording a verdict of death by road traffic collision on both men.
Speaking on her decision to give Sussex Police permission to release the video, Mr Owen’s mother, Kat, said: “If all this stops one person from making the same mistake, then some good has come from showing this video.”
Mr Careford, who did not have a licence and was uninsured, can be seen on the footage captured by Mr Owen on his mobile laughing and singing as Mr Owen appeared to be giving driving instructions.
An inquest into the deaths, which closed last week, found the friends were both heavily intoxicated with a mixture of prescribed and illegal drugs.
As the car sped along the B2100 Mr Owen can be heard panicking and urging his friend to ‘slow down’ before the footage blacks out alongside the sound of the collision and the car being overturned.
Gary Rae, campaigns director for road safety charity, Brake, said: “This is a harrowing video, and the bereaved families have shown tremendous bravery in allowing its release.
“Drug driving has been the hidden menace on our roads. It is estimated that it may account for as many as 200 deaths a year on UK roads. Driving with drugs in your system makes you a risk to yourself and others, and should be as unacceptable as drink driving.”
Zac Hemming, Kyle’s brother, said: “This footage or anything of its kind should never be recorded, let alone watched. Despite the pain of it being broadcast by the media, 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 ever has to experience the unthinkable pain of losing someone so close and dearly loved.”
Chief Inspector Phil Nicholas from the Surrey and Sussex road policing unit also praised the ‘courage’ of the families in making the decision to show the video.
He said: “Sadly, my officers have to deal with the aftermath of fatal collisions on an all too regular basis, but the loss of two young lives in this incident in such circumstances is in equal measure shocking and frustrating.”