Seaton man warns of drink-driving dangers

PUBLISHED: 14:00 12 August 2009 | UPDATED: 23:57 15 June 2010

ANNETTE and Simon’s relationship changed after the crash.

ANNETTE and Simon’s relationship changed after the crash.

A SEATON man has warned of the perils of drink-driving after a woman was killed in the car he was driving and he was left paralysed from the shoulders down.

A SEATON man has warned of the perils of drink-driving after a woman was killed in the car he was driving and he was left paralysed from the shoulders down.

Simon McArthur, 42, had been driving on the A30 in Sunningdale, Surrey, 10 years ago, when his car is said to have hit a tree at a 100 miles per hour.

His 31-year-old passenger was killed and he spent weeks in a coma.

Simon, of Elizabeth Road, said the guilt and his paralysis is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life.

He said: "Nobody told me about her death. I found out when I overheard a nurse talking. My family didn't know when would be the right time to tell me.

"I don't think anything has ever made me fell that bad before or since."

When asked if he considered himself lucky to have survived, he said: "I have to live with this wheelchair and with the guilt that somebody died. It's also a hardship for my family, so I don't know if I'm lucky or not."

On that fateful night he had been celebrating his brother's birthday. He does not remember much of the incident, but that the car had belonged to his passenger, who had not driven because she had been drinking.

He said he does not recall how much he had drunk, but fears he was over the limit. He also believes he fell asleep at the wheel.

Today, he strongly advises people against drink-driving.

He said: "I would say don't do it. Get a bus, walk - but don't get into a car. Drinking and driving will get you one of these [pointing at wheelchair] and it's not funny. It's not just you that suffers, but the whole family."

His wife Annette, 41, with whom he has four children, has stood by him.

The couple met in 1992 and married in 1996, and she says she never had any reservations about supporting him.

She said: "We had a phone call to say he was in hospital and we rushed up there. It was awful - we didn't know if he would pull through or how bad the damage was.

"It has been quite difficult dealing with it all, especially when the children were small, but I knew from day one I would stick by him."

Carers come in the morning and evening to help get Simon out of and into bed. He has hand straps so he can feed himself, but Annette washes him and is responsible for any work in the house.

She said: "It's completely changed the relationship. You have to change to look after somebody. But I think it's made us stronger."

Simon was told that many couples split up with the strain of one partner having to care for the other.

While in hospital, he met one man who had been involved in a collision on the way to his wedding - and never saw his fiancé again.

He said: "I was amazed Annette was still there when I woke up.

"I'm amazed she's still here 10 years later.

"Even without the wheelchair, I'm not easy to live with.


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