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Meeting the man who killed your son: Dad comes face-to-face with trucker who caused fatal pile up

A father meets the man who killed his son in a horrific car smash during an emotional meeting between the two men. Nic Tweddell faced lorry driver Colin Wrighton, who fell asleep at the wheel and caused a motorway pile-up[1], leading to the death of 25-year-old Toby. Criminal charges against Colin, 60, were dropped ahead of his trial after he was found to be suffering from ‘silent killer’ sleep apnoea, a disorder that stops people breathing during sleep and can lead them to suddenly nod off during the day.

Colin Wrighton meeting Nic TweddellNic Tweddell (left) meets lorry driver Colin Wrighton, who caused the death of his son Toby, face-to-face for the first time

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In the moving BBC Radio 5 live[2] encounter, where they come face-to-face for the first time, Nic tells the trucker: “I always understood, Colin, the tragedy that we bear every day, you do also.”

Colin says: “I do. That’s why I didn’t want to walk away from it. That’s why I wanted to make people aware of what sleep apnoea can do to you.

“I didn’t want any other families to have to go through what we’re going through.” Despite the tragic connection between the pair, they are linking up to raise awareness of the potentially devastating consequences of the condition.

Toby Tweddell, 25. He was killed when a lorry driven by Colin Wrighton, 54, crashed into his Nissan MicraToby Tweddell’s young life was tragically cut short when he was killed in the M62 pile-up

They are both backing a campaign for suspected sufferers to be tested within four weeks of diagnosis.

Nic and Colin also want coach and lorry drivers to be quizzed more thoroughly on their sleeping habits during medical examinations. Under the proposals, drivers would be asked a series of questions to evaluate the likelihood of them dropping off, rather than just being asked if they suffered from the condition. Colin fears many sufferers who drive for a living are afraid of going to their GP because they are worried about losing their employment.

He says: “Yes, I know for a fact that a lot of drivers have it, but they are afraid they’ll lose their licence.

Nic Tweddell reading out the opening statement he would hgave read in courtNic and Colin have put aside their unusual link to campaign for a tightening of the rules during medical exams of coach and lorry drivers

“If you get treated, you can carry on driving. It needs to be brought out – it’s a silent killer.”

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Colin says that in spite of the court throwing out the case, he believes that he should have gone to jail for causing Toby’s death. “It wasn’t fair that I was here and Toby had passed away,” he tells his victim’s father.

“I felt I should be going to jail to do my time. But I was told I couldn’t have stopped it happening because my medical hadn’t spotted it.” He adds: “Today has been a blessing for me.

I wanted to show your family that I didn’t just walk away from the accident, I didn’t want you to think I didn’t care. “There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think about Toby. Hopefully you accept my apologies.

I hope we have a friendship and I do want to keep in touch to campaign for better awareness.” Nic replies: “I understand your feelings, Colin. It’s taken me a long time to be ready to meet you but I’m glad we’ve done it and I think we’ve still got lots of work to do to increase awareness.”

Toby, from Sale, Greater Manchester, was killed when Colin’s lorry ploughed into a queue of traffic on the M62 in Merseyside in August 2006. A coroner later called on the government to tackle the issue after recording a verdict of accidental death at Toby’s inquest[3]. But more than a decade on from the tragedy, little has been done to deal with the problem.

Nic and Colin’s meeting came as part of the station’s week-long focus on sleep and will be aired today at 4pm.

References

  1. ^ motorway pile-up (www.mirror.co.uk)
  2. ^ BBC Radio 5 live (www.mirror.co.uk)
  3. ^ inquest (www.mirror.co.uk)

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