Grieving Grantham woman hopes tragic loss of her partner sends out strong message to drivers
A woman who lost the love of her life when he was hit by a motorist hopes that his untimely death will act as a severe warning to others not to take their eyes off the road.
Christopher Williams died while riding a motorcycle on his way to work along the A52 on May 25 last year.
The 24-year-old was hit by businessman Garry Allen, 33, who was travelling to a meeting in his car along the road away from Grantham.
During an overtaking manoeuvre near a turning into Bottesford, he took a phone call via his car’s Bluetooth system, took his eyes off the road and failed to see the motorcycle being ridden Christopher.
He received fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Christopher’s partner, Megan Dunlop, has spoken out about the tragedy in the hope that motorists will realise the impact any loss of concentration can have.
Megan, 22, of Blackburn Close, Grantham, said: “While nothing can bring Chris back, hopefully the sentence will send a message to other drivers. Switching songs on the radio, taking a call, having something to eat – it can all wait. They are all avoidable distractions.
“Nothing is worth destroying a family for.”
Allen, of Cressing Road, Braintree, Essex, was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison at Leicester Crown Court last Thursday, after pleading guilty to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving.
He was also banned from driving for four years and three months and ordered to retake his driving test.
Megan was at the hearing last week along with her family, Christopher’s family and his best friend.
She said: “We only found out last Tuesday that he had changed his plea from not guilty to guilty. Justice has been a long time coming and I still feel a bit numb.”
Christopher was at the beginning of a promising accountancy career and was poised to propose to Megan before settling down in Grantham, after moving to the area from Wolverhampton to live with Megan while she finished her nursing degree in Derby.
The young couple met in 2013 when they were both studying at the University of Derby. Christopher was in his last year of his physiology degree, while Megan was studying nursing. They lived in Derby together until Megan graduated last year and were having a house built in Grantham, where they planned to move in together in September.
Megan’s mother, Sally Dunlop, who worked with Christopher, has seen the impact that his death has had on her daughter. She said: “They had started to plan their wedding and he was plucking up the courage to ask my husband, Peter, if they could get engaged.
“He was training to be an accountant and was proving himself to be a valuable employee at my Sedgebrook accountancy firm.
“He was a very intelligent young man, with a promising career in front of him.”
Outside of work, Christopher had quickly become well-known at The Meres Leisure Centre, where he went rock-climbing on a regular basis. He also worked as a retained firefighter covering strike action.
Megan, who now works at Rutland Memorial Hospital in Oakham, is still struggling to come to terms with what happened. She added: “It is just over a year since our lives were changed forever. May 25, 2016 will be etched in our memories forever.
“I knew something was wrong when I didn’t hear from Chris when he’d arrived at work as he’d always text me once he had arrived. When my mum phoned shortly after to say that he hadn’t turned up at work, I knew something must have happened.
“Those first few hours trying to find Chris and hearing the news from my mother will haunt me forever.”
She added: “I never thought that at the age of 21 I’d be choosing the clothes for Chris to wear in his coffin and picking photos to put in his pocket that were previously on the bedroom wall.
“I look around my house and see all the things that we bought together for our future – one that won’t be happening. I should be planning my wedding to Chris and we should be having a good life together.”
Despite losing her partner as they were about to embark on their new life together, Megan also thinks about the impact that it has had on Mr Allen and his family.
She said: “It’s not just our family who are struggling but his as well. He is a married father with another child on the way.
“He cried when my witness statement was read out in court and he’s now got to live with what he has done for the rest of his life.”
Detective Constable Alison Briance, from Leicestershire Police’s serious collision investigation unit, echoed Megan’s pleas to drivers. She said: “The case is a reminder of the importance of being fully alert when driving.
“Allen did not for that small time give the road his full attention and he was distracted resulting in the death of a young innocent man.
“I would also like to thank the motorists who stopped to help and those who administered first aid to try and save Christopher’s life.”
In a statement, Christopher’s mother Caroline Williams said: “No sentence would be long enough for us but we have to accept the sentence given.
“Actions have consequences and Mr Allen’s actions caused the death of Christopher.
“Chris was a biker and started riding at 16 years of age. He was known as a safe biker but that was not enough. We would like to see more campaigns on TV to raise the awareness of bikes on our roads because the excuse of not seeing them is not good enough.”