Parents of car crash victim warn young drivers to belt up

THE parents of a teenager who was killed in a car crash are urging other young drivers to belt-up after an inquest heard that their son had not been wearing his seatbelt. Tim West and Sheena McClelland lost their eldest son, 17-year-old Lewis, in July w

THE parents of a teenager who was killed in a car crash are urging other young drivers to "belt-up" after an inquest heard that their son had not been wearing his seatbelt.

Tim West and Sheena McClelland lost their eldest son, 17-year-old Lewis, in July when his car collided with a derelict house.

Lewis had passed his driving test just six weeks before the accident. It was revealed at his inquest last week that he was not wearing a seat belt, although it could not be determined if that was a factor in his death.

His parents are now urging teenagers to think before setting off on their journey and to put make sure they wear a seat belt.

Miss McClelland, who lives with Mr West and their two younger sons in Hopbine Court, Ramsey, said: "I was so surprised when they said Lewis wasn't wearing his seat belt.

"We always wear ours and if I had ever seen him not wearing it I would have told him off. He knew he should always have his belt on. I don't understand why he wasn't. It is the law. You have got to wear your seat belt."

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Lewis was killed on the three-mile drive home from his friend's house in Ramsey St Mary's.

Miss McClelland added: "I have been surprised by how many people have told me since the accident that they drive without their seat belts, especially along the Ramsey St Mary's road, near the river. They actually unclip their belts to drive along that road."

Mr West said: "Young drivers think they are invincible and that it will never happen to them. But it can and it does. The unbelievable thing is two of Lewis's closest friends have written their cars off since he died."

Both described their son as a good driver, despite his inexperience.

Miss McClelland said: "He was a good driver. All he ever wanted to do was learn how to drive. I used to take him out all the time."

They described how the poor condition of the local roads was well known and that there have been many deaths in recent years.

Mr West said he was keen to encourage better road safety amongst youngsters and that local police and fire fighters from Ramsey were keen to help.

However, he added: "It's hard. No matter what we do, Lewis is not coming back. It's getting worse, not better. We had Lewis for 17-and-a-half years and now he's gone. We won't ever come to terms with it. We just have to find a new normality and learn to cope with it."

Family friend and local police officer Andy Morris is keen to help.

He said: "I want to go into school and talk to the kids. I'll show them graphic images if I have to, to demonstrate the difference wearing a seat belt makes.

"They have this mentality that it won't happen to them, but it has already happened to one of their own and we want to stop it happening again.

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