Sunday, January 6, 2008


Trauma of tragic girls.(News)

Byline: By Liz Hands

The family of a brave mother who died saving her children last night spoke of the trauma of having to live through the tragedy again.

Wendy Smith, 33, of Leaside, Halton Lea Gate, near Haltwhistle, Northumberland, was killed when she was hit by a runaway lorry trailer after pushing her children, Nicola, 10, and Chelcie, 4, to safety.

Yesterday, a coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death on the 1999 tragedy and said he would be seeking new laws to prevent trailers breaking away from lorries.

Ms Smith was mown down by the 3.5 tonne trailer when it broke loose from the truck pulling it.

Last night, Ms Smith's partner Richard Johnson told how the hearing had forced her family to live through her death again.

Mr Johnson attended all three days of the inquest in Carlisle, hoping it would help him and their children to move on after the tragedy.

The inquest ended with coroner David Osbourne calling for a law to be introduced to ensure trailers are better looked after.

Mr Johnson said he was unhappy with the inquest verdict and the past week had brought terrible memories flooding back for the children.

He said: "I had to leave before the end. It was just getting too upsetting. I couldn't

believe it when the verdict was accidental death. I know the coroner isn't there to give out punishments, but I am still so angry at what has happened."

Mr Johnson said he and children Nicola, now 14, and Chelcie, now eight, must now try to move on.

He said: "I would have liked this to go back to court but I realise there is nothing more I can do.

"We have no choice but to try to move on."

He added: "This inquest has knocked us all back to square one. It has taken four years since her death to get to this stage.

"We'd tried to get into a routine for the sake of the children, but now they are just as upset as they were when Wendy died.

"I've got no idea where to start telling them what happened at the inquest."

Although coroner David Osbourne called for tighter legislation to make sure a similar tragedy never happens again, Mr Johnson, a road maintenance worker, said that was not good enough.

"No one has been punished properly for what happened to Wendy. Others will just think nothing happened this time, so they won't bother checking their vehicles over either," he said.

Now living with his new partner, Pat, and her 11-year-old daughter, Mr Johnson said he and his two girls would be staying on in Halton Lea Gate.

He said: "There are some terrible memories. We have to pass the place Wendy was killed every day, but this is our home.

"Wendy was so well loved in the village and the support from all her friends has really helped us to come through this."

No comments: