Remembering family killed in car crash on way home from Butlins

Tributes to the Cockburn family from County Durham where five members of the same family were killed in a car crash.
Tributes to the Cockburn family from County Durham where five members of the same family were killed in a car crash.
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A GRIEVING man has spoken of his devastation after his whole family were snatched away in a car crash.

A year ago on Saturday, tragedy struck when five members of Dean Cockburn’s family died when their car was involved in a head-on collision with a lorry on the A18 in Grimsby.

Parents Angela and David Cockburn, 48 and 49, their daughters Carley Ann, 21, and Bethany, 18, and Bethany’s two-year-old daughter Lacie Jade Stephenson, all from Chester-le-Street, were travelling back from a dance competition at Butlins in Skegness. Dean, 25, was the sole surviving member of his immediate family.

The maintenance technician at Nissan said: “Not a day goes by when you don’t think about them. You battle with who you are grieving for and you don’t know.

“You say to yourself ‘how can you only think about one of them?’. It is too much to only think about one person.

David worked at Birtley’s AEI Cable factory before switching career to be a care manager for disabled adults at Gateshead Council, a job his son says was a perfect fit.

He said: “He loved people and loved to help. He was a natural carer.

“The people he helped were his friends, he didn’t see it as his job.” Carley Ann and Bethany were best friends and had been dancing together since they were children at Trish n Trina’s Dance School, also in Chester-le-Street.

Dean said: “Beth wanted to be a nursery nurse and she had done her work experience but then she fell pregnant with Lacie.”

Beth’s partner, and Lacie’s dad, soldier Garry Stephenson, 21, was serving in Afghanistan when the tragic crash happened.

Dean said: “Although Lacie was only little, she was a little character. She could talk in sentences even though she was only 23 months. You could have a little conversation with her.”

The girls had also had bridesmaid dresses fitted as Dean planned to marry his girlfriend Laura this year.

The wedding has now been postponed as everyone struggles to come to terms with the terrible loss.

Dean also wants to thank people for their support for several fundraising drives.

One saw a bench erected in Gateshead in memory of David while others included a plaque to remember the girls and a memorial dance competition, which will now be held annually.

“We wanted to say thank you to everyone for their support,” said Dean. “It has been overwhelming.

“This has left a massive hole in our lives and every day is a struggle, but the support we have had has been amazing.”