Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mother Acts Over Trailer Death

Grieving mother calls for reform

The mother of a four-year-old boy from Derbyshire who died after he was hit by a runaway trailer is calling for MOT-type testing of all trailers.

Finlay Martin died in July 2007 from injuries sustained in the accident in Heage.

The Department for Transport has commissioned some research into the number of accidents involving trailers.

But it said there would be significant difficulties with MOT-type testing of light trailers.

Finlay was killed by a trailer which had become detached from the car towing it.

The driver was prosecuted for its condition.

Zoe Martin, who organised a petition calling for reform, said: "If that trailer had been tested Finlay would be here today because that trailer would not have been on the road because it was so defective."

In a statement the Department for Transport said: "It is not clear that the introduction of a requirement to retrofit breakaway cables or secondary couplings to older, lighter, trailers would necessarily have the benefits suggested in the petition.

"Equally, the fact that there is no statutory or comprehensive national record of when any light trailer was built or to whom it belongs means there would be significant difficulties with MOT-testing light trailers."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Still hope for MOT tests on trailers, says Mallaber

Still hope for MOT tests on trailers, says Mallaber

Wednesday, October 01, 2008, 07:30

AN MP says there is still hope that a campaign to introduce MOT-type tests on all trailers –- launched after the death of a four-year-old boy.

Labour MP for Amber Valley Judy Mallaber said reports that the tests would not be brought in were premature.

A campaign was launched by the family of Finlay Martin, who died in July last year after he was hit by a trailer which had become detached from a car in Old Road, Heage. He was walking with his mother, Zoe, who was seriously injured.

More than 1,500 people have signed a petition, set up by Amber Valley borough councillor Juliette Blake.

It called for reform but the Government appeared to reject the proposals yesterday when it said there would be "significant difficulties" in introducing a test.

However Ms Mallaber said research was ongoing and a final decision on MOT-type testing was yet to be made.

She said: "The Department for Transport has identified poor driving behaviour as one reason behind accidents involving trailers but further research has been commissioned and the Government is rightly waiting for its conclusions. It's not a closed door at all."

An investigation after Finlay's death found that the trailer involved had defective brakes and that a cable which should have activated the brakes when the trailer became detached from the car was missing.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Family petitions for MOT trailer tests

Family petitions for MOT trailer tests

07:30 - 21-July-2008

SINCE Finlay's death, members of his family have been campaigning for a change in the law relating to the use of trailers.

An investigation found that the trailer which killed the four-year-old had defective brakes and that a cable, which should have activated the brakes when it became detached from the vehicle, was missing.

Currently, trailers do not have to undergo any test to check for roadworthiness – something which Finlay's family believes should be made a legal requirement.

Now, a year after Finlay's death, the Department of Transport says it will be reviewing whether or not a statutory testing regime is needed for light trailers. Finlay's family have welcomed the news.

His dad, Wayne, said: “If we can prevent another person dying, then Finlay's life will not just have been a privilege for us.”

The family's campaign has included a petition, which was set up with the help of Amber Valley borough councillor Juliette Blake, which has been signed by 1,220 people.

Finlay's grandfather, Paul Martin, 51, said: “At the moment, you can keep a trailer rotting in a field for three years and then bring it out and use it.

“We want to raise awareness of how dangerous trailers can be and urge people to keep them properly maintained.

“If that trailer had been tested and properly maintained, this might not have happened.”

A Department for Transport spokesman confirmed a review would take place.

He said: “We will be reviewing the question of whether or not a statutory testing regime is needed for light trailers.

“People who use trailers are required by law to keep them properly maintained and in a roadworthy condition.

“However, the evidence we have to date suggests most accidents involving light trailers are not caused by maintenance defects on the trailer.

“Many are caused by the way the towing vehicle was driven or occur because the trailer was not connected to the towing vehicle correctly.”

'I'll never forgive the driver – that is Finlay's job...'

'I'll never forgive the driver – that is Finlay's job...'

AS Zoe Martin regained consciousness, she reached out, frantically trying to find her son's hand, which she had been holding tightly moments earlier.

Lying at the side of the road and unable to move due to the extent of her injuries, she opened her eyes.

Blinded by the sunlight, she had no idea where she was or what had happened.

Her thoughts immediately turned to her son, Finlay, and she called out his name, desperate for reassurance that he was all right.

“All I could feel was gravel on my hands and I knew that something had happened,” she said.

“I remember trying to find Finlay with my hand and I remember saying 'Where is my little boy?'

“He should have been there and I could not feel him.”

The mother and son had been walking along Old Road, in Heage, on their way to pick up Finlay's older sister, Millie, from school, when they were hit by a runaway trailer.

It had broken away from a car and careered down the road, crushing them.

Zoe drifted in and out of consciousness for seven days at Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre. Only after that did she discover that she had six broken vertebrae, a fractured skull and her leg had been broken in two places.

She also found out her son was dead.

“I remember asking again and again where Finlay was,” she said.

“They kept telling me he was in resuscitation but I could tell by their eyes.”

A nurse finally told Zoe that her son did not make it.

“I don't remember what happened after that. I think I passed out.”

The day of the accident – July 19, 2007 – had started like any other.

“That morning, Finlay and I were dancing around and singing and then we had a cuddle on the sofa,” said Zoe, 32.

“He was really excited because it was Millie's last day at school and he was looking forward to playing with her every day.”

When it was time to collect Millie from Heage Primary School, Zoe and Finlay left their house in Old Road and crossed over to the other side.

As the pair walked along the pavement, they were unaware a trailer being towed by a car had broken free and was careering towards them.

“I don't remember being hit,” said Zoe.

“Apparently, it hit us from behind.

“I don't know how long it had been rolling down the road for.”

Zoe said the next thing she remembered was coming round lying in the road, shouting and frantically trying to feel for Finlay's hand.

“A lady who was holding my head just kept saying “Don't move, don't move”,” she said.

“I heard a man shout 'Has anyone called an ambulance?' and then I don't remember much after that.”

Zoe came round briefly in the ambulance and was told Finlay had been airlifted to hospital.

The next thing she remembered was waking up in Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre as her head was being shaved so doctors could fit a metal brace contraption to restrict her movement.

Zoe remained in intensive care for a week with Finlay's father Wayne, 33, by her side.

She was then moved to the spinal unit, where she stayed for another two weeks.

Once released, Zoe had to keep the brace on for three months and use a wheelchair and crutches to get about.

She has been left with a metal bar in her leg and suffers pain in her back and neck, which has meant she is unable to return to work as a hairdresser.

After the accident, the family found it too painful to return to the house and the scene of the accident so they moved in with Wayne's father, Paul, at his home in Farnsfield, Newark.

Wayne, a police officer, was the first to return to the family home a few days after the tragedy, to find Finlay's things still all over the floor.

“Every time I found something, I just broke down,” he said.

“All of a sudden, I would start crying and it would go on for five or 10 minutes.

“I thought I was going to go mad and I would never stop crying.”

The family finally found the strength to move back in October.

Wayne said: “It was hard but, at the same time, we had four years of amazing memories of Finlay there, too, that we did not want to forget. I would go through all this hurt again and again to have the time with Finlay once more.”

And it is those memories of Finlay, and the love of their six-year-old daughter, Millie, that has kept the couple strong.

Finlay and Millie were so close that people often mistook them as twins, although they were born 14 months apart.

Zoe said: “She talks about him all the time and mentions him every day without fail.

“They were best friends and really close.”

Wayne said: “Millie was really shy but Finlay was the complete opposite – a real showman.

“He made everyone laugh without even trying. He was a fun little character.

“He was just a really happy kid.

“He was also really loving and sensitive.

“He was always telling Zoe he loved her and that she looked beautiful – he was doing my job, really.”

Wayne and Zoe have taken comfort in their belief that Finlay has gone to a better place.

Zoe said: “We know that Finlay will never leave our side.

“It alters your view of life. We all believe that there is something out there and that Finlay is in a better place.”

Wayne added: “We want to get across that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

On the day of the accident, the trailer was being towed by a car driven by David Robins.

At Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court earlier this year, Robins, and the owner of the trailer, Michael Buckley, were each given a £500 fine and their driving licences endorsed with three penalty points. Both men were also ordered to pay £45 costs.

Buckley pleaded guilty to permitting the use of the vehicle and Robins admitted using a vehicle with defective brakes and using a vehicle when a secondary coupling device was not fitted.

Zoe, said: “I couldn't believe that he only got a £500 fine. He knew that trailer was not safe, he was not being a responsible adult.”

Wayne said: “You have to not allow yourself to get consumed by anger. I'll never forgive the driver, that is Finlay's job.”

On Saturday at 3pm, a year after the crash, Zoe, Wayne and Millie went to Heage Primary School to present the Finlay Martin Memorial Cup.

The trophy, which will be an annual award, was presented to young village footballers Ted Clark, seven, and Joe Brumby, nine, who have performed well over the year.

The audience at the event also clapped for 30 seconds in memory of Finlay.

Wayne said: “It was really nice. Obviously, it was quite emotional but a really positive way to remember Finlay.”

Finlay's parents' hope after trailer tragedy

Finlay's parents' hope after trailer tragedy

07:30 - 21-July-2008

THE parents of a four-year-old boy who was killed by a runaway trailer are demanding a change in the law on the first anniversary of his death.

Finlay Martin died when he was hit by the trailer, which had broken free from the car towing it.

His mother, Zoe, who was with Finlay at the time, received serious injuries.

An investigation found that the trailer had defective brakes and that a cable, which should have activated the brakes when the trailer became detached from the car, was missing.

Now, officials at the Department of Transport have confirmed that they are considering a change in the law which would introduce a compulsory MOT-style test for trailers – something which Finlay's family are campaigning for.

His father Wayne, 33, said: “We are pleased. It is all about trying to get little positives from day-to-day life and, if the law does get changed, then that is brilliant news.

“If we can prevent another person or child dying, then Finlay's life will not just have been a privilege for us.”