Family update after London Road crash

ONE of the most terrible Ipswich crashes of recent years, saw a motorcyclist plough into the Seymour family who were crossing London Road on August 18, 2005.

By Tracey Sparling

ONE of the most terrible Ipswich crashes of recent years, saw a motorcyclist plough into the Seymour family who were crossing London Road on August 18, 2005. During National Road Victim Month, features editor TRACEY SPARLING finds out how they are today.

WHEN he hears the sound of a helicopter whirring overhead, Kieran Seymour can't contain his excitement.

He flings the door wide and rushes out into the garden to scour the skies. Is it the bright yellow shine of the East Anglian Air Ambulance passing by? He hopes so…this eight-year-old harbours far more than a little boy's typical interest in planes trains and automobiles. He feels an enduring connection to the helicopter and crew who airlifted him to hospital and helped save his life, almost two years ago to the day.

Only the drag of Kieran's left foot, which trips him up as he runs, gives a hint of the horror he suffered. The injury he tries to hide, is a lasting reminder of the day when a motorcyclist ploughed into him, his little brother and their grandparents as they crossed the road on their way to Chantry Park one summer's day.

The unyielding force of the metal machine slammed into the family, throwing them into the air. Kieran aged six at the time, suffered two broken legs - one broken in three places - and head injuries which left him fighting for life. Two-year-old Ethan was also injured. Their grandma Christine Seymour, 58 at the time, died in hospital of her injuries five weeks later, and granddad Brian, 66, had both legs amputated.

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Shaun described the horror of his closest family laying in different hospitals, fighting for their lives.

He said: “My mum and dad had a 40 per cent chance of living that first day, and at 9.30pm we were taken by the police at 142mph to Addenbrooke's, where doctors were saying Kieran wouldn't make it through the night. We were torn, but Sam's mum and dad went to Ipswich Hospital to sit with Ethan and my parents.”

Christopher Bainbridge, 35, of Lincoln Close, Ipswich was jailed for three-and-a-half years for causing death by dangerous driving, after admitting in court 'I was going too quickly.' He will serve only half his sentence and is due to be released in January.

“The anger never goes away” said Kieran's mum Sam, 38. Her composure is unflappable, but behind her eyes the rage - and lifelong hurt - run deep.

“Kieran nearly lost his life, Shaun lost his mum and Shaun's dad lost her and his legs - come January Mr Bainbridge will walk free and not know the effects, if he thinks about it.”

Kieran's having a splint fitted this week to wear during the day. It's highly likely he will have to have an operation on his left leg, which will involve months of plaster and he'll have to learn to walk again.

Sam added that it was the little things which upset him, like singing hymns at school or seeing a crash on TV which upset him. She said: “If they hear a motorbike revving, both both Kieran and Ethan will jump out of their skin - even now they are still affected by it. Kieran has lost a lot of confidence. He couldn't get upstairs to his bedroom or bathroom for four months because his legs were broken, so he slept in the conservatory and used a commode which was very difficult for a six-year-old boy.

“He doesn't talk about the accident. If anyone asks him about it he'll go quiet and look to us to explain what happened.

“We were told Ethan was too young to remember, but last year at playgroup they were working on the theme of transport and talking about motorbikes, and Ethan came home and started asking questions about the accident, asking 'Why did I get hit?'.

Husband Shaun, 36, added; “It should be life for a life. We were relatively happy when he got over three years but serving just 18 months is disgusting.”

His torment spilled over during the court case last year . He said: “I couldn't control myself, my temper,” and admitted he went to anger counselling.

That was when Pc Phil Barrett the policeman helping them, became a family friend, and he remains so today.

Shaun said: “He could see tempers were getting frayed in court, especially when Mr Bainbridge smiled at me. Phil said to me 'calm down, keep cool'. He actually bet me £10 Bainbridge would be put away, as there times I doubted it would happen. I still owe him! There were times when I raged at Phil, but he took it all in his stride and got us through the court case. I wrote to his chief inspector afterwards to thank him.”

In the months after the crash, the roads held a fear for Sam. She didn't want to drive the family car, and said: “Kieran had lost his confidence and so did we. People would say we were being over protective and should let him play out with the football, but we don't. We have seen what can happen and we were frightened really, of it happening again.”

She added: “I just don't see the point of manufacturers making faster and faster cars and motorbikes, when nobody can legally drive them on the roads.”

Brian has taken a driving test and awaits delivery of an adapted van, after being confined to a motorised wheelchair and having to rely on his three sons for trips to the shops.

Shaun said: “He is looking forward to being able to drive himself again, and meet up with his old mechanic friends in Felixstowe. He loves his garden and pond, and his flowers are his pride and joy. They are what make him happy.

“He does sometimes say 'I should have gone with mum' and 'the boys shouldn't have been hurt.'”

Meanwhile, Shaun and Sam have learned to 'sort of relax' now. Shaun said: “We think about today rather than worry about tomorrow. We don't plan too far into the future because you never know how life's going to change.”

Before the accident, the family had been looking forward to a fortnight's holiday, having days out across the area. Both boys had made a list of what they wanted to do, including visiting the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, swimming and going to the cinema.

“We still have their list,” said Sam, “and we plan to finally do all the things on it, at the end of August.”

Shaun added: “The whole idea of having children is that it's their holiday. Unfortunately we can't spend six weeks abroad because we've got work to do, but we can give them quality time. When you've been that close to something like that, you realise you have to get on and do things in life.”

That theory is being passed on to Kieran, a pupil at Springfield Junior School, who just can't keep still. He loves running, jumping, trampolining and football.

“He's on the go all the time,” said Sam. At the end of the summer term his teacher had to remind his schoolmates what happened to him, after some had been making nasty comments.

“They see he can't run as fast as some of the other children and see he's not the brightest. We don't know if it's because of the accident, things are still being investigated. I went on a school trip with him once and a little boy asked me if he'd lost part of his brain in the accident.”

She added: “Kieran gets really excited when he sees the air ambulance. We have to remind him that it's only up there because somebody has had an accident, and needs help fast, like he did.”

The family often attends fun days with the air ambulance to spread the message about its worth.

Shaun said: “With a mortgage and a family to feed, we can't afford to give them £10,000 or £1,000 but if they ask us we like to help by going along.

“It's our way of paying them back for saving Kieran's life.”

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Has the air ambulance helped you? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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