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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 11:58 GMT
Risky driving: The victims' story
Ross Sneddon
Ross Sneddon was killed by a young driver high on drugs
A survey suggests some young drivers admit to taking "extreme" and life-threatening risks while driving. One such act ended the lives of three people in Fife "in a matter of moments".

On the morning of Sunday, 15 February, 2004, Michelle Sneddon was returning from a dance class with her son Ross, aged five, his sister Lyta, two, family friend Anne Martin, 39, and Mrs Martin's daughter Ashley, seven.

Their thoughts and chatter were abruptly interrupted.

Mrs Sneddon said: "As we crossed the last road towards home, a car came flying around the corner, screeching and scraping alongside the house that we were outside.


"I pushed the buggy, with my daughter in, out of the way. I put my hands back to grab my son and my friend's daughter, but they weren't there. He [the driver] just drove off."

Anne Martin and her daughter Ashley lay dead. Mrs Sneddon held Ross.

"My son died in my arms and I screamed."

A female passer-by tried unsuccessfully to administer first aid to Ross.

There's nowhere you've got to be that quick that you've got to overtake on a blind bend, it's better to get there late than never at all.
Michelle Sneddon

"I knew he was gone when his cheeky grin disappeared," said Mrs Sneddon.

"It was like a scene out of Casualty, my husband said he was waiting for someone to say 'cut'.

"We'd never seen anything as bad. It was utter carnage and it was very quiet."

The driver, Dean Paul Martin - no relations to the victims, was 23.

He had stolen a car, driven while disqualified and without insurance and failed to stop after the accident.

Martin was also under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Four days before Mrs Sneddon's 30th birthday, Martin - who pleaded guilty to the offences - was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

'Stupid risks'

"To me it should have been life, two innocent children, who hadn't even lived, died.

"It tore a chunk out of me, when he [Ross] was taken - he was my first born, my only son.

"I was told I could never have kids, and then I had Ross, so he was extra special."

Once Mrs Sneddon was able to talk about what had happened, she began working with a number of organisations, including the charity Brake, the police and the fire service in Fife and the local NHS Safe Drive Stay Alive project.

She tells her story in schools to explain that it can happen to anyone.

"There are some out there who just don't care less. They think it won't happen to them. My message is it could happen to them, you see it all the time. TV makes it all look so glamorous because everybody bounces back.

"But when they hear our story, it shows how real it is, we're not actors we're real people that have had to go through it."

She says school children are always shocked at seeing the pictures of Ross looking so bright and alive and then hearing the story of how he died.

Fatal crash victims from left: Anne Martin, her daughter Ashley and Ross Sneddon
Anne and Ashley Martin, and Ross Sneddon died "within moments"

"People don't need to take these stupid risks - there's no call that is so important that you've got to take it while you're driving, there's nowhere you've got to be that quick that you've got to overtake on a blind bend.

"It's better to get there late than never at all."

"Turn off the phone, whoever it is will leave a message or you're going to end up killing someone.

"I hope that people will sit up, take notice and do what they should do to keep people safe."

While friends and family and many others are far more aware and conscious of driving safely, Mrs Sneddon says the campaign must continue as there are still dangers out there.

"It's not only yourself you're thinking about. Any car could stop in front of you.

"Just the other day a car went through a red light at a pedestrian crossing, I could see he wasn't going to stop, he wasn't paying attention so I held the children back from crossing the road."

The driver, she said, was in his early 20s.

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