The heartbroken family of a man who died following a crash on the M1 have spoken of their pride after he decided to donate his organs to help others.
Mark Downham, 48, from Chorley, Lancashire, was a back seat passenger in a van which was involved in a collision with a car and a lorry. It happened on the M1 southbound, about two kilometres after junction 27 with the A608, at about 5.40am on Saturday 24 March 2018.
Mr Downham was taken to hospital but died from his injuries two days later.
His family paid tribute to him today (Thursday 13 September 2018) after seeing the driver of the car involved in the crash, 28-year-old Adrian Radu, jailed for 11 years for causing his death by dangerous driving.
Radu, of Alfreton Road, Nottingham, was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court today having previously pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving while over the prescribed limit and driving without insurance.
In a victim personal statement Mr Downham’s mother, Lesley, said: “Through his generosity Mark has saved many lives. The first one we were told about was a man who received his liver within two hours of Mark’s life support being switched off.
“We have been told that there are three babies and six children with heart problems who have received tissue from Mark to repair their own hearts. Two men received a kidney each – one had waited for four-and-a-half years and the other had waited only a month.
“Several people have benefited from tissue matching. One girl in particular who had severe facial burns had been waiting seven years before she was a match with Mark’s tissue and will now receive facial reconstruction surgery. She is now 14-years-old.
“We had agreed to any type of tissue donation possible and the knowledge that parts of our son were still living and helping others was of great comfort to us.
“Mark is to receive a humanitarian award due to his generosity. The Cross of St John is to be awarded posthumously sometime in the next 12 months. We’re very proud that our son will be able to help so many more people and that some good could come from this tragic loss.”
In a victim personal statement Mr Downham’s sister, Natalie, said: “Mark was a really social person and was very popular. I had a great relationship with him and I can’t help feeling that I have been robbed of my time with him.
“I think the hardest thing has been seeing my parents have to deal with losing a child. My dad has always been very strong and confident but this has emotionally destroyed him. It has been heartbreaking to watch.
“To see my parents, who are in their 70s and 80s, having to go through this has just been horrendous.”
The court heard how Radu was seen by other motorists driving a Vauxhall Astra in an erratic and dangerous manner before the collision and how he drove the wrong way on the M1 towards oncoming traffic after the crash.
Dash cam footage of the crash showed Radu’s Astra travelling ahead of the lorry in lane two. For no apparent reason the car braked sharply which caused another vehicle travelling in the same lane to take evasive action and swerve into lane three to avoid colliding with it.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Due to the last-minute swerving of this vehicle a van driver who was travelling behind in lane two was unable to avoid colliding with the back of Radu’s Astra. The van then hit the lorry.[/perfectpullquote]
Following the crash Radu drove off for approximately 550 metres, driving northbound in lane four of the southbound carriageway of the M1, before eventually coming to a stop.
He failed a roadside breath test and was duly arrested. Radu also subsequently failed the intoxilyser procedure at the police station.
Radu was sentenced to 11 years in prison for causing Mr Downham’s death by dangerous driving.
He received a 15-month sentence, to be served concurrently, for dangerous driving, and four-month sentences, to be served concurrently, for driving while disqualified and driving with excess alcohol. He received no separate penalty for driving without insurance.
Radu also received a 13-and-a-half year driving ban and was told he will have to take an extended re-test.
Speaking after Radu’s sentencing Detective Sergeant Clare Gibson, of Nottinghamshire Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “This collision could have been avoided had Adrian Radu shown any respect for the law by adhering to his driving disqualification, and even then making the responsible decision not to drive after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
“He showed no consideration for anyone else on the road and was a danger from the second he got behind the wheel.
“The CCTV footage shows just how incapable Radu was of driving his car and a collision was sadly inevitable. Radu has failed to show any remorse for his actions throughout the investigation.
“The collision resulted in the completely unnecessary death of Mark Downham, and his family and friends have to live with the catastrophic consequences of Radu’s selfish actions for the rest of their lives.
“I would like to thank all those who stopped at the scene and did their best to help Mark and also assisted with our investigation. I would also like to acknowledge the dignity and patience his family have shown throughout our investigation.”