Son in talks to tackle ‘atrocious’ driving in Derry after father’s death

Christopher Sherrard with his father Wilson and mother Ann.
Christopher Sherrard with his father Wilson and mother Ann.

A local man whose father died from injuries sustained in a road traffic crash has staged a series of talks about a major new road safety campaign in the north west.

Christopher Sherrard has now met with a number of statutory, community and voluntary bodies to discuss current initiatives, how to expand upon them and create new awareness drives.

Wilson Sherrard, who died following a road traffic collision outside Claudy three weeks ago.

Wilson Sherrard, who died following a road traffic collision outside Claudy three weeks ago.

His father, Wilson Sherrard (60), from the Fountain, was a passenger in a car that was involved in a collision in the Claudy area three weeks ago.

While police are currently investigating this particular accident, Christopher Sherrard said that losing his father has spurred him on to advocate a high profile, general public road safety awareness campaign.

Recalling the devastating aftermath of the recent tragedy, Christopher told the Journal: “My father was in a bad way. He wasn’t killed, he was slaughtered, the crash was that severe. He had multiple fractures; two collapsed lungs; a bleed on the brain; a punctured bowel, severe injuries to his face. When we got to the hospital it was absolutely dreadful.”

Recalling the man his father was, he said: “My father was a loving husband, he loved my mother Ann dearly. He was a brilliant father to my brother Ryan and myself, and a fantastic grandfather. He doted on my three daughters.”

Christopher said his family have received numerous Sympathy and Mass Cards from all sides of the community.

“My father was a guy who was a friend to anyone and an enemy to none,” he said. “My parents worked together in the factories from when they were young, at Welch Margetson’s and Graham Hunter’s, and they spent all their time together.”

He said that the tragedy had spurred him to action.

“I don’t want anybody else going through what we had to go through, because it was horrendous. You wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy. My father had more injuries than a soldier would have had on the battlefield. We are the 37th family this year to be in this situation and there have been another four since that.

“Since my dad passed away I have been trying to get cross-party support from councillors in the city to try and get a push behind more awareness in the town because I don’t think there has been enough going on.

“Since my father’s funeral there has been three parties that have been in touch so far, in regard to supporting the drive.”

Over recent days, Independent Councillor Maurice Devenney has arranged a meeting for Christopher with the local PSNI Road Safety Education Officer and the chairman of Foyle Road Safety Committee, a voluntary organisation. We discussed projects that are ongoing at the moment and the possibility of other drives in the near future,” Mr Sherrard added.

Representatives from Dove House have also pledged their support, while Christopher and his brother Ryan have met with a senior council official this week.

Colr. Devenney is now expected to table a notice of motion on the issue when the council when it reconvenes next month.

Christopher is also in talks about a major crash simulation/reconstruction at Ebrington Square, while he is also keen that road safety stalls can be set up at community events and that a greater emphasis is placed on educating children and young adults.

Speaking about the current road safety situation in Derry, Mr Sherrard said: “It is absolutely atrocious at the moment. Since last Thursday I witnessed two crashes; at Caw Roundabout there’s 40 foot lorries pulling out in front of cars; there’s too many people running about on mobile phones still; there’s cars jumping traffic lights. Then you had the car going up the wrong side of the Foyle Bridge.

“There is a sheer lack of awareness at the moment. I don’t know if it is people in a hurry trying to get from A to B or just sheer ignorance.”

Christopher, who works at Altnagelvin Hospital, where his father died, praised the fire service, the PSNI Traffic Branch and the paramedics who attended the scene of the accident.

Any group which wishes to contact Christopher about the campaign can reach him on his e-mail: christophersherrard@hotmail.co.uk