Memories of crash haunt Harry

NEARLY four years after a horrific fatal crash in Ipswich, a young boy who witnessed it is today still bearing the scars.

NEARLY four years after a horrific fatal crash in Ipswich, a young boy who witnessed it is today still bearing the scars.

Harry Robinson was just six years old when he saw the devastation in the wake of the tragic collision in 2005, and is now receiving treatment for post traumatic stress after being haunted by what he saw.

Harry, now ten, was a passenger in his mum's car that was travelling behind a motorcyclist who then crashed into a family crossing London Road, killing one and seriously injuring two.

His mum, Tanya, leapt out to help and told Harry to stay in the car, but she didn't realise in the commotion of everything that he had walked over to the scene and watched as she tended to one of the victims.

A year after the event, he began getting nightmares and was more and more withdrawn. He then began getting fits during science lessons at school, when bones, skeletons and body parts had been discussed.

Mrs Robinson, of Fairfield Avenue, Felixstowe, said: “The bike overtook us and then Harry said 'mummy stop'. It all happened so quickly. I got out of the car and told him not to move unless I said so. We were there for such a long time and I was concentrating on helping the young boy. I didn't realise that Harry was right behind me. He was insistent he wanted to stay there.

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“After that he occasionally asked questions about the accident but didn't really talk about it. About a year later he started having fits.

“He was like an empty shell at school and his reading and writing decreased rapidly. He could never talk about it.”

Although doctors first assumed it was epilepsy, it seemed that the seizures only happened when the subject of the body was brought up.

It was only when Mrs Robinson, 31, took him to a private play therapist that he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress. He is now seeing her once a week and work is being done to try to eradicate the nightmares and bad memories. He is also on sedatives.

Mrs Robinson, who is currently a student, said: “He now attends Grange Primary School, and has made tremendous progress although he still has to come out of science lessons. We don't know how long it will take him to get better. I'm having to pay �30 per session because it is done privately and I can't get it through the NHS. At the end of the day though he is my son and I will do whatever it takes to get him better.

“It isn't just the family affected by the accident. It has caused so much heartache for so many people.”

Have you suffered stress due to a tragic incident in your life? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Professor Ian Robbins, associate director of psychology therapies at Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, and expert in post traumatic stress, said: “Post traumatic stress in children is probably less common than it is in adults. They can suffer from it if the problem is severe enough.

“The problem with the diagnosis is sometimes when children are exposed to trauma it is often more complex than post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Just to diagnose PTSD doesn't do anyone any favours. Other problems may be occurring. The seizures he is having are something a lot more complicated.

“Working with children requires a range of therapeutic approaches. You can use play, art, and cognitive behaviour therapy. It's about understanding what the symptoms are and how to change them.”

He said among the symptoms for PTSD are flashbacks, avoidance, emotional instability, and heightened arousal when exposed to things which resemble the incident.

A spokesman for East Suffolk MIND added: “PTSD is something that is relatively new as it was first discovered in the 80s so sometimes there is trouble with the diagnosis of it.

“We have a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMS) which people can be referred to via their GP.”

The Seymour family were torn apart by the tragic events on August 18, 2005. The crash happened as grandmother Christine Seymour, 58, and grandfather, Brian Seymour, were crossing the road with their two grandchildren, Kieran, then six, and Ethan, then two. Speeding motorcyclist Christopher Bainbridge ploughed into them, which resulted in the death of Mrs Seymour, and left Brian and Kieran with serious injuries.

Bainbridge was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison but only served half and has now been released.

Mrs Robinson's help at the accident led to a lasting friendship between the two families. Harry and Kieran are also good friends.

Shaun Seymour, the father of the two young boys, said: “There is a knock-on effect for everyone involved. It stays with you. “Whenever I see a motorcyclist speeding along, it comes back to me.

“Kieran is still struggling at school because of his long-term memory loss and he still suffers with his leg injuries. The crash which killed those two girls brought it all back. It reminds me what we went through as a family. I know how bad they must be feeling and my heart goes out to them.”

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