Video: More than 4m people view shocking footage of fatal Norfolk crash released as part of road safety campaign

David Holmes, who died in a crash on the A47. David Holmes, who died in a crash on the A47.

Saturday, September 6, 2014
12:45 PM

A hard-hitting road safety video featuring shocking footage of a fatal crash in Norfolk has now been viewed by nearly eight million people. WARNING: Some viewers may find the video distressing.

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David Holmes's mother Brenda and chief inspector Chris Spinks releasing the video of his fatal accident. Photo: Bill SmithDavid Holmes's mother Brenda and chief inspector Chris Spinks releasing the video of his fatal accident. Photo: Bill Smith

Grieving mother Brenda Holmes had agreed to release the video of her son David’s fatal motorcycle crash as part of a police road safety campaign.

Within 24 hours of being launched ‘David’s story’, a video featuring clips of a collision captured on his headcam, had received more than 1.2million views.

WARNING: Some viewers may find the video distressing.

The video, which has now had almost eight million views, shows the moment a car crosses into the path of Norwich motorcyclist David Holmes who was travelling from King’s Lynn on the A47 at Honingham in June last year (2103). He was killed instantly.

Road safety in numbers

NORFOLK

People killed or seriously injured, 2009-2014 (motorcyclists / car occupants)

2009: 93 - 186

2010: 85 - 168

2011: 86 - 162

2012: 80 - 163

2013: 104 - 163

2014 (Jan-July): 67 - 91

Since 2009 in , 48 motorcyclists have been killed with 447 seriously injured in collisions. So far in 2014, four motorcyclists have been injured, with 64 seriously injured, on Norfolk roads

SUFFOLK

People killed or seriously injured, 2009-2014 (motorcyclists / car occupants)

2009: 92 - 155

2010: 87 - 115

2011: 87 - 153

2012: 80 - 160

2013: 70 - 131

2014 to end July: 34 - 58

Since 2009, 43 motorcyclists have been killed with 412 seriously injured in collisions. So far in 2014, five motorcyclists have been killed, with 34 seriously injured.

Police worked closely with David’s family who were in full support of the footage being released into the public domain in the hope it would prevent further deaths.

Chief Inspector Chris Spinks, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, said he had been astonished by the public response.

He said: “We always knew this video had the potential to be very effective in spreading the message about road safety but to have had over a million views in such a short space of time is truly remarkable.

“It is really pleasing and the fact the public has taken such an interest means they are talking about road safety, which was our aim all along. David’s family have always been of the belief that if this video could save just one life then it would be worth it. Unfortunately, we’ll never know if we have achieved this but I’m confident, with the level of interest that we will.”

‘This is the reality of fatal collisions’

The head of Norfolk and Suffolk’s Roads Policing Unit has defended the controversial video as a powerful tool in the delivering the road safety message.

Chief Inspector Chris Spinks said: “The video is shocking; however this is the reality of fatal collisions.

“The emotions people may experience after seeing this video can only touch the surface of those feelings that families and friends go through when losing a loved one in this way.

“The consequences of fatal collisions are devastating for all involved and as such our message though education has to reflect this. I firmly believe this footage is powerful enough to make riders and drivers think about their behaviour on the road; and most important of all, change it for the better.

“I understand releasing such footage will divide opinion; David’s family are in full support of the material being released and we’ve worked closely with his mother Brenda to ensure this is achieved in an effective and sensitive way.”

He added: “The aim of releasing this footage is not to achieve agreement from the public; it’s about delivering messages around road safety and how deaths can be prevented.

“I welcome the fact it will create debate and, in my view, this will get people talking about road safety; their actions behind the wheel or on a bike and it will go some way to achieving our aims.”

Viewers of the video are warned that it contains content which some may find distressing, but it does not show any graphic images of the rider during or after the collision and they are given the option to refrain from viewing.

The 38-year-old had been travelling at about 97mph at the time of the collision. While he was travelling above the speed limit the driver admitted to police in interview that he had not seen David, nor a car behind the motorcycle, prior to the collision. The driver was prosecuted.

Mrs Holmes, a retired nurse who lives in North Walsham, said she hoped that by telling her story, she could help prevent another family going through the heartache they had and continue to experience.

She said:

“I want to be involved in this campaign because I feel something positive can come out of his loss.“If we can prevent one accident, one family going through what we have been through, then David would not have died in vain.”

The footage shows the moment a car turned across Mr Holmes’ path on the A47 at Honingham, and his cry as he realised he would not be able to avert the collision.

“He must have had a moment of fear at the end of his life; I find that very hard to deal with,” said Mrs Holmes.

“David was the most wonderful son and his loss has left such a void in our lives.

“Being without him has changed everything; our lives ended that day and I can truly say I know the meaning of heartache. It really does hurt: it’s a physical pain.”

Officers from Norfolk and Suffolk roads policing unit believe the video, entitled David’s Story, is the first of its kind in the country, and have worked closely on it with Mr Holmes’ family.

The 38-year-old was an experienced motorcyclist, who had been travelling at speeds of up to 97mph as he returned home to Sprowston from King’s Lynn on June 8 last year but an inquest heard that driver Benjamin Austin would have had sight of him and his bike for seven seconds before the collision.

Austin, 29, of Long Lane, Stoke Holy Cross, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving in April and was disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to carry out 130 hours’ unpaid work.

Ch Insp Chris Spinks, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, said the car should not have attempted the manoeuvre, for which Mr Holmes had paid “the ultimate price”.

“The majority of bikers ride responsibly however I’m sure many will relate to the riding style seen in this video. We know motorcyclists are a vulnerable group and this sad case is a reminder to all roads users to be alert to what is going on around you and to lower your speed,” he said.

“The causes of collisions are almost always the result of driver or rider behaviour. Motorists, be it on two wheels or four, need to take responsibility for their actions. I would urge riders and drivers to think about their behaviour and what changes they could make to improve their own safety and that of others on the road.”

Mrs Holmes, a retired nurse from North Walsham, said she did not apportion any blame for her son’s death, but only hoped people would benefit from her warning, slow down and look for bikes.

She added: “I’m not a perfect driver, I’ve done silly things sometimes and I’ve been lucky to get away with them. David wasn’t lucky, the driver wasn’t lucky.”

EXPERIENCED RIDER DAVID GOT HIS FIRST BIKE AT 16

A “very special son” who lived his life to the full – that was how David Holmes’ family described the experienced motorcyclist who got his first bike at 16.

A former North Walsham High School and Paston Sixth Form pupil, Mr Holmes had been riding for 22 years, and was regarded as a safe and defensive rider by his many friends.

He had returned from a 15-month stint with the British Antarctic Survey in February 2013, and was working as an electrical technician for Anglian Water.

Speaking days after his death, his parents Brenda and Ken, and sister Emma paid tribute to a “fantastic guy” who “packed masses into life”, and would leave “a huge gap in our hearts”.

Among his many interests were electronics, computers, gaming, music, film, photography and the environment, and he formed his own auto-electrics and trading company, called Elect-Roads, reflecting his interest in both bikes and electronics.

His family said: “David packed masses into life; he was happy and enjoying every day. Travel, charity parachute jumps, track days, race meetings, marshalling, concerts, he did all that and more. He was always there for us.

“David has been the best son he could possibly have been; a fantastic guy. He was considerate of others, too; even his neighbours loved him, despite his bikes. His loss leaves a huge gap in our hearts and lives that can never be filled. We miss his smile, his hugs and his sheer zest for life. We love you David.”

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