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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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Man whose life ruined by crash urges drivers to slow down

A Sellafield worker who suffered horrific injuries in a crash caused by a speeding car has issued an emotional plea to motorists, telling them to ‘slow down’.

Alan Drinkwater, 52, told how his life has been ruined by the accident which was caused by 25-year-old Christopher Dixon, who has been banned from the road for a month after he admitted careless driving.

A court was told how the young motorist had tried to overtake a car near Moor Row as he approached a blind bend at between 40 and 50mph, but he lost control, and his car slammed head on into Mr Drinkwater’s Seat Leon.

His two passengers, his sister Julie Riley and her husband Peter Riley, were also seriously injured.

In an attempt to show the appalling consequences from Dixon’s bad driving, Mr Drinkwater described how the crash changed his life.

He spent three months in hospital, including three days in intensive care. The injuries he suffered included broken ribs, internal bleeding, a collapsed lung, a shattered leg, and injuries to a foot and hand.

The October 2011 crash left him so traumatised that he still suffers nightmares – but it is the aftermath of his injuries that has most altered his life.

Every day, he has to take morphine for the intense pain, and a heavy metal cage has been fixed around his left leg after doctors used 22 pins to rebuild the bones.

In November, the stress of undergoing six-and-a-half hours of surgery to rebuild his leg led to Mr Drinkwater suffering a heart attack.

He recalled how firefighters had to cut him free from his car after the accident.

He said: “I remember one of the firefighters who cut me from the car said I was lucky to be alive. I’ve had three operations and had a heart attack two days after the last one.

“That was at the Liverpool Royal Hospital last November, and they had to transfer me to the heart and chest hospital. The accident has absolutely smashed me to bits.

“My life has completely changed. I know I’ll never be able to go back to my old job at Sellafield [as a welder].

“I’ve had to give up my garden, I can’t any longer play with or go out walking with my grandchildren.

“I have to take 22 tablets every day, and it takes me ten minutes to even get up the stairs. I used to bound up them without any trouble.

“My brother in law had to be rushed to The Cumberland Infirmary with a rip to his bladder and my sister injured her spine.

“It’s all been an absolute nightmare.”

Mr Drinkwater, who was just minutes from his Scalegill Road home in Moor Row when the crash happened, said what really affected him during the court case was the lack of an apology from Dixon, who was described in court asa “highly paid” Sellafield contractor.

Mr Drinkwater said: “If he’d said sorry, it would have made a massive difference.

“But there’s been nothing. He walked right past me out of the courtroom and didn’t even look at me.

“My wife has been a marvellous support throughout this. I wanted to talk about it because it might stop somebody from doing it to somebody else.

“These young ones should learn to slow down when they’re driving otherwise there’s going to be more and more accidents on the roads and more deaths.”

As well as being banned for a month, Dixon, of Dent View, Egremont, has to pay a fine and costs totalling £3,100.

He was originally charged with dangerous driving but the judge agreed that his driving on that day did not fall within the definition of that offence. She said: “But trying to come round that corner at nearly 50mph was something that was never going to work.”

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