The devastated sister of a drink drive victim is warning of the consequences of driving while under the influence as part of the joint Cleveland and Durham Christmas drink and drug drive campaign.
As part of the national ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) seasonal campaign, Vicky Dowdall has joined police and doctors to tell of the horrors and emotional turmoil of losing someone to a drink driver.
Jacqueline Dowdall, aged 43, from Coxhoe in County Durham, was killed on the A1(M) in Durham on 7 April 2013 after Craig Bourne hit her car at around 5.30am at over 100mph while driving at more than twice the legal alcohol limit.
Bourne, from Rushyrigg in Blackfell, had been driving from Darlington to his parents’ house in Washington when he collided with Jacqueline’s car as she travelled to work. He received over seven years’ imprisonment.
During the trial, a victim impact statement was provided by Jacqueline’s father on behalf of the family, which read: “…Everything has changed for our family. The enjoyment has been ripped from our lives and nothing is going to be the same. Everything we do is now tinged with great sadness.
“From nowhere, her life was taken from her, and through no fault of her own. I don’t think anyone can begin to imagine how this feels, a life snubbed out, a beautiful person taken from us, all of our lives changed forever…there is not a one of us who does not cry every night for Jacqueline, who can sleep properly or indeed function properly.”
The campaign was launched at the University Hospital of North Tees accident and emergency department along with police and emergency doctors. Jacqueline was treated by doctors at the University Hospital of North Durham following the collision, however, her injuries were too severe and she sadly passed away.
Vicky Dowdall said: “I can’t explain in words how much this has devastated our family and all of Jackie’s friends. It’s a pain I’ve never experienced before and a year and a half later it’s still there. I don’t think time heals, I just think you have no choice but to learn how to deal with it. Most importantly, my sister Jackie will never experience all of the things she wanted to do. She worked so hard and loved to travel. Wherever I am in the world I get extremely upset and angry knowing my sister will never get to do all of the things she dreamt about and deserved because someone decided to get into a car and drive whilst drunk. Please, please don’t do it. It’s just not worth it. Get a taxi, get a bus, a train – anything but drink and drive. The shock of losing my sister so suddenly to such a brutal accident will haunt me forever. I didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye.
“I will never forgive the man who did this to my sister. He has several years left in prison but at least he will have many Christmases to come with his family. We can’t have that, she’s gone forever and we miss her so much.”
Inspector Ed Turner, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “As roads policing officers we see, all too often, the devastation that is caused by those who get behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs, whether that be because someone got straight into their vehicle after a drink or because they decided to drive the morning after a heavy night.
“We want to show people that their actions have consequences, and those consequences can leave you, or someone that you know – a family member or a friend, or someone that you have never even met seriously or fatally injured. Ask yourself if you want that on your conscience before you get behind the wheel.”
Andy Simpson, clinical director of the accident and emergency department at the University Hospital of North Tees, said: “We are often faced with alcohol and drug related emergencies in our department. There are still too many drivers willing to risk their own lives and the lives of others.”
In 2013, there were seven fatal collisions involving a drunk driver in the Cleveland and Durham force areas and 18 people were seriously injured as a result of a collision involving a drunk driver.
The national campaign runs from Monday 1 December for one month. Officers from the Cleveland and Durham specialist operations unit will carry out enforcement and educational activity throughout.