‘Like living on the edge of a black hole’

AN EATON Ford family who lost a son and brother in a road accident three years ago have become the latest to join our campaign for safer roads.

AN EATON Ford family who lost a son and brother in a road accident three years ago have become the latest to join our campaign for safer roads.

Trainee solicitor Chris Pattle, 24, was killed as he drove home on November 28, 2007, when an oncoming car overtook around a blind bend on the B645 and collided with his car head-on. He died from his injuries at the scene.

For Chris’s parents, Graham and Lynne, the accident changed their lives forever.

“Losing our much loved son and brother has caused us the greatest pain that any family could ever endure, and that will never change,” said Mr and Mrs Pattle, of Meadowsweet, Eaton Ford.

“We have lost the life we led before and are having to learn to live a new life that we do not want.

“Some days it feels like you are living on the edge of a big dark hole and sometimes you have to work very hard to stop yourself toppling into that hole.”

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The driver of the other car, 22-year-old Alex Kuhne, of Common Lane, Hemingford Abbots, was sentenced to 20 months in prison in May 2008 after admitting causing death by dangerous driving, and was banned from driving for two years.

After reading about the Hunts Post’s Drive Safe – Save a Life campaign, Chris’s sister Charlotte encouraged her family to get involved.

They are keen to prevent others having to go through the trauma Chris’s friends and family have over the past three years.

Charlotte, 23, said: “At first it was just complete shock. We are a close family, and it devastated us.

“I think this campaign is a great idea. Even if it just saves one life, it would save the devastation we are still going through as a family now.”

In the days following Chris’s death, the family slept downstairs in their house because the memories evoked by his empty bedroom upstairs were too painful.

Around 350 mourners attended his funeral, and one friend even had Chris’s name tattooed across his back in memory.

Three years on, with support from friends and family, the Pattles have had to learn to cope with their loss.

“You never get over it, but you have to learn to live with it,” said Charlotte. “You have good days and bad days. Certain times of year are tougher than others: Christmas, his birthday, the anniversary.

“There will always be something that reminds you of him: a song you hear, an advert you see, or a place you went, and it’ll remind you of him.”

Charlotte’s sister Louise, 30, has been trying to raise awareness of road safety since her brother’s accident, and hopes that the family’s involvement in the campaign can make a difference.

She said: “Since losing Chris I have become much more aware of the way people drive and how so many people make split-second choices, not realising that it could actually be a choice that will change their own or someone else’s life forever.

“Chris doesn’t get to have a future, and I cannot express how hard it is coming to terms with the fact that he will never be a part of mine.”