Vow to honour memory of Sunderland dad Richie Jordan as hard work on campaign for change on roads moves into 2023
A mum-of-two whose partner died in a collision on the A19 has warned against the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs as she vows to continue a safety campaign in his name.
Carol King, of East Herrington, has been calling for change following the death of her partner Richie Jordan, who was 33. He suffered fatal injuries in August 2019 after being thrown from a speeding Mercedes, which was being driven by his work colleague Mark Thompson. Richie was a passenger in the vehicle.
Carol channelled her grief for the father of her two daughters – Quinn, five, and two-year-old Gray, who was born after Richie died – into a campaign for change, which she hopes will help other families facing similar tragedies.
Supported by MP Bridget Phillipson, she hopes to bring forward a procedural change whereby motorists suspected of being at fault in a serious or fatal collision, whether this is through careless or dangerous driving, drinking alcohol or taking drugs, have their licences temporarily suspended while a police investigation continues.
‘There are massive consequences’
Carol’s hopes for the future are all-the-more poignant over the festive period, as police forces across the region and country focus their efforts on increased drink and drug-driving awareness initiatives. She told the Echo that she applauds the extra vigilance on these offences around Christmastime, and backs tougher crackdowns all year round.
The mum-of-two, 31, said: “You go out and you might take the car – and it’s just not worth it. We know that. There are massive consequences.”
Mark Thompson, of Seaton Crescent, Seaham, was jailed for six years and eight months in August 2021, after admitting charges of causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving. Newcastle Crown Court heard that Thompson was over the drink and drug-drive limits at the time of the collision which claimed Richie’s life on the A19 at Houghton.
Thompson tested positive for a type of cocaine and recorded 118mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, the court heard at the time of his sentence. The legal limit is 80mg.
The Echo understands that Thompson, now 44, was transferred to an open prison in October 2022. It’s also understood that he did not wish to engage with a request for a meeting with Carol.
Carol, who said she wanted answers and an apology for her young daughters’ sakes, plans to focus on her campaign efforts in the new year in a bid to help others. She continued: “I will never get that ‘sorry’ and that’s something I will have to come to peace with, and concentrate on the campaign and help people like myself and try and change where I was failed.”
Looking forward to 2023, Carol hopes to see a trial period of temporary driving licence revocation in certain collisions, to offer families affected by serious injury or death on the roads some small comfort.
She added: “I do think it would make a huge difference and in cases like mine it’s the peace of mind knowing that this person responsible for your loved one’s death is off the roads.”
Work to continue in 2023
Ms Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, wrote to Transport Secretary Mark Harper on Monday, December 20 seeking a committment from his department to launch an information-gathering process, known as a call for evidence, where affected parties can share their views on proposed Government policies or potential changes in law.
She also called for a transport minister to attend a previously-requested meeting with the two women, to see firsthand the impact Richie’s death has had on Carol’s family.
The MP met with one of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) ministers, The Baroness Vere of Norbiton, in June. It was at that meeting, that the DfT committed to launching an upcoming call for evidence on motoring offences.
In the letter, which has been seen by the Echo, Ms Phillipson praised Carol’s bravery in working to honour Richie and other families who could face the same heartbreak.
The letter continued: “In May, I wrote to your predecessor to request a meeting to discuss the need for change in this area and was granted a 15-minute meeting with the Minister for Roads, Buses and Places. In this meeting, I was assured that the Department would be launching a call for evidence on the Road Traffic Act 1988 by the end of 2022.
"I appreciate this has been a significant time of upheaval at the top of Government and many changes have taken place at your Department. However, my constituent is keen to know whether these plans remain in place."
In a statement to the Echo, Ms Phillipson added: “We are now on the third Transport Secretary since I first raised Carol’s case with the Department. That’s why I am now urging the current Transport Secretary to honour the commitments made to Carol and her family only six months ago.
"Carol has shown immense bravery throughout her campaign. I will continue to press the Government until we see change in this area. Families have waited long enough.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport confirmed that the call to evidence will now be published in 2023, and said: “Every death or serious injury on our roads is a tragedy, and to ensure the concerns of those who have been affected are heard we will be launching a call for evidence on motoring offences.”