Kat Owen wants people to watch the shocking, fast, and furious last few minutes of her son Michael’s life, for the simple reason that if it “stops one person from making the same mistake, then some good has come from showing this video. I'm hoping it will have an impact on young people and make them see that a bit of fun can have such devastating consequences.”
Michael, 21, and his friend Kyle Careford, 20, died instantly when the car that Careford (unlicensed and uninsured) was driving smashed and overturned at high speed, into the wall of a church in the U.K. town of Crowborough, East Sussex, on April 12 this year.
The two men, from Tunbridge Wells, had taken a cocktail of prescribed and illegal drugs, with Owen filming their careening progress down the country roads right up until the moment of the crash and their deaths.
The video was retrieved from Owen’s phone the next day.
The two-and-a-half minute video was released by Sussex Police with “the knowledge and support of the victims’ families." A warning states that viewers may find it distressing to watch.
“Ain’t no Old Bill round ‘ere,” one of the men says, referring to the possibility of being caught by police as they were speeding and under the influence of drugs.
“Keep goin’,” Owen says, and then—approaching another car from behind—“Go round ‘im.” The camera flashes to the speedometer, hovering above 80 mph, way above the speed limit of 30 mph.
“Slow down bruv,” Owen cautions.
“We’re doing 90,” a voice says.
Then there is a ripping, crunching sound—presumably the crash—and later the muffled voice of a passerby asking if anyone can hear her, and that an ambulance is coming. And again: “Can anyone hear me in there?”
Speaking after the inquest into her son’s death, Kat Owen said: "We bring our children up teaching them right from wrong. We guide them and give them our advice and hope they listen, but once they are adults we hope they make the right choices.
"I really don't know why the boys chose to do what they did, but I blame them both for the decisions they made on this night.
"I would like all the young people out there to take notice and realize that you are not invincible and take seriously how precious your lives are to yourselves and others.
"I want young drivers to consider how much devastation it causes to the families and loved ones that are left behind.
"Watching the video was very upsetting, but I'm hoping it can be used in a positive way, by showing young people what could happen to them."
Zac Hemming, Careford’s brother, said: "This footage or anything of its kind should never be recorded, let alone watched.
"However, despite the pain of it being broadcast by the media, we as a family just hope and pray that this will connect with at least one person out there, young or old, so that no-one ever has to experience the unthinkable pain of losing someone so close and dearly loved.”
Lauren Humble, Owen’s ex-partner, said: "This video was absolutely heart-breaking to watch but it did give us all of the answers that were needed.
"I know plenty of people who drive fast and I hope that this video will show people that driving like this can have devastating consequences and how short life can really be.
"You see car accidents on the news all of the time and you never think something like that would happen to you or your family.
“The Michael we saw on that video was not the Michael that we knew who was a loving, caring responsible daddy.
“The legacy that Michael has left is our beautiful daughter Lily-Rose who is 5 years old, she will have to live with the impact of this horrific situation forever."