The families of two friends killed in a collision with a driver high on a cocktail of alcohol and drugs have pledged their support for our Summer Anti-Drink and Drug Driving Campaign.
Corran Powell, 21, and James Simmons, 18, died after the Volkswagen Polo in which they were travelling together collided head on with a Ford Fiesta on Braintree Road, Gosfield on Sunday, December 7, 2014.
James sadly died at the scene and Corran, known to family and friends as Coz , passed away in hospital eight days later.
The 30-year-old driver of the Fiesta also died. A post-mortem revealed him to be more than three times over the legal drink drive limit and under the influence of drugs including cocaine and cannabis.
It is believed he attempted to overtake a car and veered into the path of the car in which James and Corran were travelling, resulting in a head on crash.
Corran and James parents, Gennie and Antony Powell and Mike and Jill Simmons, have spoken out as part of the campaign which runs in partnership with the Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP) until July 10 to coincide with the UEFA European Championships.
They hope talking openly about the devastation they live with every day will prevent another family having to do the same.
In 2015, Essex Police arrested 1,191 drivers on suspicion of drink driving. Between March 2015 and the end of the year, 81 drivers were arrested on suspicion of drug driving.
An inquest revealed the driver involved in the collision with Corran and James had 256 milligrams of alcohol in his blood and evidence of cannabis, amphetamine and diazepam in his system.
Mike and Jill Simmons from the Braintree area said: “On December 7, 2014, we walked into a world that wasn t ours anymore – our lives just stopped. James was everything to us and we can t enjoy life without him.
“Driving any vehicle comes with responsibilities you are essentially in charge of a dangerous weapon. If you must drink or take drugs please don t get behind the wheel. James was a kind-hearted, caring lad. He didn t take drugs but drugs killed him.
“We talk about James and the cruel events of that day every single day but people just don t realise the devastation it causes. Please don t put another family through this.
James and Corran were friends who shared a mutual love for music. Corran gave up his free time to work with young people with learning difficulties while James worked with charities including Help for Heroes.
Corran s parents, Gennie and Antony Powell from the Braintree areas, said: “Corran was a caring and gentle soul. His death has fractured our family. Sometimes for a split second we forget that our amazing boy isn t with us anymore but then it hits you sideways when you least expect it.
“Corran s death has left a gaping hole in everything we do, a hole that cannot be filled.
“I would never want anyone to feel about me the way I feel about the driver who got into a car that day knowing he had had too much to drink and had taken drugs. Please, please don t drink or drug drive.
Essex Police takes robust action against drink and drug driving 365 days a year but will be working with SERP throughout the campaign to crackdown on drivers who get behind the wheel under the influence.
Road policing officers will be patrolling towns with bustling night time economies as well as rural areas where some drivers believe they have less chance of getting caught.
As well as traditional breath tests, officers will be using new drug testing kits to detect drivers under the influence of illegal drugs including cannabis and cocaine.
Throughout the campaign, SERP will be engaging with football supporters who travel to pubs and bars in town centres to watch Euro 2016 matches and posters warning about the dangers and consequences of drink and drug driving will be displayed in the toilets of these venues.
We ll also be keeping you up to date on our social media channels with details of how many drivers we ve breathalysed and drug tested and how many of those have been arrested.
Adam Pipe, Casualty Reduction Manager at Essex Police, said: “Drink and drug driving devastates lives and I would like to express my gratitude to Gennie and Antony Powell and Mike and Jill Simmons for agreeing to help us with our campaign this year.
“I cannot begin to imagine what they have been through and the pain they live with every day but innocent people like them are my team s motivation. My team is passionate about road safety and work tirelessly 24 hours a day 365 days a year to bring to justice irresponsible drivers who put others at risk by getting behind the wheel under the influence. However we need your help.
“The introduction of the new drug testing kits mean we are better equipped than ever to detect drink and drug drivers on our roads. However increasing demands on our officers means taking a more targeted approach to taking drink and drug drivers off our roads.
“We re asking residents to tell us about people who put the lives of innocent road users at risk by driving drunk or high on drugs.Anyone with information can call Essex Police any time of day or night on 101. However we understand there are some people who would rather not speak to police and would prefer to remain anonymous so we re encouraging them to contact Crimestoppers. Any intelligence received will then be passed to my team and I can assure you it will be acted upon.
“Please don t forget that you need to dial 999 in an emergency if you know someone is drunk and see them getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Nicola Foster, Chairman of the Safer Essex Roads Partnership said: “We are devastated that we continue to see fatal drink and drug behaviours on the roads of Essex. We are also fully aware of the deadly and saddening consequences.
“We would like to urge all drivers not to get behind the wheel if they have been drinking or taking drugs. Think! Never drink or drug drive.
Antonia Litten, Eastern Regional Manager for Crimestoppers, is supporting the campaign. She said: “Some people may have information about a regular drink driver or drug driver but feel uncomfortable going directly to the police especially if they are a neighbour, family member or friend. There is a safe alternative in passing information to the independent charity Crimestoppers.
“We take this information 100% anonymously. We never ask for your name or any personal details, we don t record our calls and we can t trace information provided by phone or online. Those giving information to us do not have to give a statement to the police or go to court. Nobody will know you called. In the 28 years we have been running, our charity has never broken its promise of anonymity.
“By telling us about someone who regularly drinks alcohol or takes drugs and drives you could be saving someone s life.
Roger Hirst, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Bad driving is one of the biggest killers we face in Essex. I urge everyone to take responsibility when they get behind the wheel, and not to drive whilst under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
Please help us keep the roads safe by:
” Stopping family and friends getting behind the wheel if they have had an alcoholic drink or you know they have taken drugs
” Dialling 999 if you know someone is drunk and you see them getting behind the wheel of a car
” Calling Essex Police on 101 to give police information about someone who regularly chooses to drink and drive
” Telling Crimestoppers anonymously about people who regularly choose to drink and drive by calling 0800 555 111 or visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org