Aaron was killed while crossing a road outside his school. The driver was doing an estimated speed of between 42 and 54 mph in a 30mph limit.
The following is an account sent to Brake by Aaron's mother. In the covering letter, she apologised for the length of the account, stating, 'once I started writing I couldn't stop.' It conveys very well the extreme emotions experienced by a bereaved family (particularly a parent who loses a child), including feelings of disbelief, powerlessness, anger, loneliness and an overwhelming sense of loss.
"15th June 1999, the day that every mother's nightmare became my reality. My only son Aaron Peter Samuel Turner, who was 12 years and nine days old, was killed when he crossed a road during his lunch break from school. Aaron's death was not his fault. It was caused by a young lad driving his car at high speed, so that he would look cool in front of the other youngsters who were around at the time.
Aaron was born on 6th June 1987, and from the start he was a real live wire. He was the opposite of my daughter Joanna in every way. He slept all day and was awake most of the night! As time went on I knew that he would grow to be a very bright child. So many things come to mind, but a few particular things are as follows. When he was two I was woken really early by noises coming from his bedroom and when I went in I found that he had dismantled his cot completely and it was like a 'flat pack' on the floor. On another occasion I took him to the doctors and he was crawling on the floor underneath the desk. When I picked him up, he had taken quite a few of the screws out of the doctor's chair. These kinds of things still bring a smile to my face. Once, when Aaron and Joanna were in the bath together Aaron said, 'Jo, you have got a moustache.' So of course Jo shaved it off.
Aaron had some difficulties with his speech as he was learning to talk and for years he called my dad 'Afwah'. We never did find out where that came from. When Aaron was nearly four, his father and I separated, so there was just myself, Joanne and Aaron. Aaron and Jo spent every Sunday with their dad, right up until the Sunday before Aaron was killed.
As Aaron grew older, so his talents started to show. He was one of those children who could turn his hand to anything. It never seemed to enter his head that there was anything he couldn't do. He went through a phase when he was always standing on his head and I can remember saying 'If I see him upside down one more time I'm going to scream.' He just seemed to be able to do anything. He could always run faster and jump higher and further than anyone else. On Aaron's last sports day at school he won everything, and each event he was in I could hear his name being shouted by the rest of the children. He was brilliant. This led to Aaron being chosen to represent the North East Lincolnshire schools in an inter-county competition in Dewsbury near Leeds. He still holds the record for throwing the javelin.
Aaron had a particular talent with his hands. He could make things out of paper, cardboard boxes, anything he could lay his hands on, and it was all from his own imagination. I've got some of his drawings, which are fantastic by any means. Joanna used to get some really good marks for her artwork at school because she would get Aaron to do her homework for her (of course it would have to be at the right price).
In 1997 Joanna and Aaron went on holiday to Spain with my mum and dad. When I saw the video my dad had taken I was amazed. Although I knew that Aaron could swim, I never realised how well and how brilliant he was at diving. I didn't even know that he could! Once again it was something that came so naturally to him. My mum once bought Aaron a T-shirt with the words 'no fear' written on the front, and that was Aaron. He had no fear; failure at anything didn't occur to him.
We come from a very close and loving family. Even though we live 200 miles apart (my mum, dad and two sisters live in Essex), we have always had frequent visits, either at their houses or mine. Every single Christmas has been spent together all our lives. Joanna, Aaron and their cousins always did a little play or performed some magic to entertain us on Christmas morning. I remember one year when Aaron was quite small he 'disappeared' from the magic box and as we were clapping my brother-in-law said, 'Would you like some chocolate Aaron?' Of course Aaron jumped up like a shot, much to the annoyance of his cousins and Joanna. It was so funny!
Once Aaron and his friend decided to abseil down a big tree at the end of our street. While Aaron was on the way down, with the rope tied around his waist, his friend had to go in for his tea. The rope got tangled on a branch and Aaron was left hanging from the tree for an hour before his friend came back and cut him down. He was so mad when he came home, but the way he described it just made me laugh.
For six years after my divorce there was just me, Jo and Aaron, until in 1998 I met Martin. Right from the start Martin and my children got on great. We took them out for days and one night we took them ten-pin bowling. You can guess who scored the most points. Aaron had us in stitches because he was 'moonwalking' along the floor in between his turns. After we had been together a few months Martin said that he would give Jo and Aaron £5 a week pocket money if they had been good. When Aaron got his first £5 he went straight to the local gift shop and bought me a pair of earrings. I just thought that was so lovely of him.
In September 1998 Aaron started at secondary school. The results of his SATS tests meant that he was in the top set of the top band. I was so proud of him! He became great mates with several boys- Carl, Scott, Nicky, Mark and Danny. Danny had lost his dad, John, in an accident at work in late 1997 and he used to talk to Aaron about how he felt. We became good friends with Danny's mum and his sister Claire. Aaron had known Scott and Nicky since they started nursery school when they were three, and all our families had become quite close. The boys used to go everywhere together - camping in each other's gardens, roller-blading at the local skate-park, riding on their bikes. They never could get enough of each other. It was all we could do to get them in each night.
In October 1998 Martin and I decided that we wanted to stay together, so we found a house on a new estate that was being built. Danny had moved earlier on in the year to the same place so Aaron was really chuffed. The pair of them had timed how long it would take to get from one house to the other. Aaron said that if he walked at normal pace it would take seventeen seconds. We planned to move in during the summer of 1999.
At this time I had started work at Morrisons, working Tuesday to Friday in the afternoons. Jo and Aaron caught the school bus home together and waited until I got home at 5 o'clock. They would then have their tea and then go out with their friends, often to the local youth club.
Christmas came and went with the usual family get-together. It was especially nice for us because we were like a family again.
On April 4th 1999 (Easter Sunday), tragedy struck. Danny's sister Claire was killed in a car crash. She was 15 years old. The 19 year old driver of the car was driving along a country lane at night doing a speed of 85mph. Claire didn't stand a chance. When the driver lost control the car turned over and she was thrown through the windscreen. Claire died from her injuries three hours later. We couldn't believe it. It just didn't seem possible that this could happen just 18 months after John had died. The driver is now serving two and a half years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving.
Danny and Aaron became even closer during the next few weeks and spent a lot of time sleeping at each other's houses because Danny became afraid of being upstairs on his own. I think that in his own way, Aaron brought a lot of comfort to Danny.
On Sunday 6th June 1999 Aaron turned 12. He had asked for money for his birthday instead of presents because he wanted to buy some parts for his bike and some clothes and trainers that he had seen in town. During the previous couple of weeks he'd been building himself another bike from parts he had bought with his pocket money. I never thought that it would be more than a heap of scrap!
By the following Saturday, he was ready to put the finishing touches to it. We went to town and he got spray paint, tyres, a really snazzy brake cable and some bright red handle bar grips. Then we got the trainers he wanted and various other bits and pieces. We had a really good day together.
Aaron's dad had by now had two more daughters and both Aaron and Jo thought the world of them. Chloe was five and Melissa was six months. On Sunday 13th June, Jo and Aaron were made godparents to Melissa.
On Tuesday 15th June 1999, Aaron left for school as usual with Joanna. As he went out of the door he said to me, 'Later Mum!' These were the last words he ever spoke to me. Martin and I had been busy getting things together for our new home. During that morning we went to look at some furniture we were having made. After that Martin asked if I would like to go and buy an engagement ring. I was thrilled; I couldn't wait to tell Jo and Aaron the news. We had already talked about getting married and Jo and Aaron were all for it. Joanna couldn't wait to be our bridesmaid but Aaron being Aaron asked if we minded if he was an usher instead of a pageboy because he didn't fancy wearing a suit and would rather go in his tracky bottoms and trainers. We used to wind him up by saying how nice he would look in a bow tie.
Martin and I both left for work at lunchtime. Before I left the house I wrote a note for the kids asking them to do their homework before tea so that they could go to the youth club later. I left a P.S. on the bottom saying that Martin and I had got engaged. I knew that they would both be really happy for us. I couldn't remember feeling so happy for years. It was a beautiful day, the hottest day of the year so far, and I felt that at long last the future was looking great for us.
I had been at work for seven minutes when I was called to the personnel office. My first thought was 'Oh God, what have I done wrong?' Joan said that my son had had an accident and had been taken to hospital. I felt my whole body start to shake and I seemed to sense that it was going to be serious, even though I didn't know any details at the time. I phoned Martin and told him to meet me at the hospital. The ride to hospital seemed to take forever, although it was only ten minutes away. Every traffic light was on red and I kept telling Joan what had happened to Claire. She tried to reassure me that it would probably be a broken bone and that Aaron would be alright.
I ran through the Accident and Emergency doors, but we didn't know which way to go. Although there were people around I felt like I was alone. I found a lady sitting at a desk using a computer while talking to a patient so I stood waiting to speak to her. Suddenly a nurse (Helen) ran to the desk and said, 'I need a consent form for an emergency blood transfusion for an unknown child.' I knew immediately that this was Aaron. I told her I thought it was my son. Helen asked me what he was wearing and if he had an earring in his left ear. This confirmed that the child they had was Aaron.
I was taken into the relatives' room opposite the resuscitation theatre. Helen told me that Aaron had been knocked down by a car and that he was 'very poorly'. I asked her if he would be alright but she just kept saying that he was 'very poorly' and that they were doing everything they could for him.
By this time it was five to two and Martin must have arrived at some time because I can remember him sitting next to me, holding me. Helen asked if I would like to phone Aaron's dad, but I said no, I would phone him later. She kept pushing me to phone him so I asked her if Aaron was going to die. She said that she didn't know but that everything that could be done for him was being done. I phoned Les's girlfriend and she said that she would pick him up from work and would be with us in an hour. I rang my mum and dad and asked them to come. I can remember crying, hardly able to speak, as I said, 'They don't know if Aaron's going to make it.' I knew it would take my parents about four hours to make the journey.
Helen kept popping out to see us, but the answer was always the same- 'Aaron's very poorly.' My hopes were raised at one point when we were told that the helicopter had arrived and was ready to take Aaron to another hospital, where they were better equipped to deal with head injuries.
In my head I just kept saying to myself 'Please God, don't let Aaron die. Don't take him away from me. He's only twelve. He hasn't lived yet.'
The headmaster from Jo and Aaron's school came to the hospital to ask what I wanted to do with Jo. I wasn't sure what to do for the best, but in the end I asked him to take her to my Auntie's house where I knew she would be well looked after.
At 3.30pm a doctor came in and sat down. I couldn't look at him I was so frightened of what he might say. 'Aaron had a nasty cut on his head.' The doctor got no further than that. I knew because he used the word HAD instead of HAS. I threw myself onto Martin screaming and crying, shouting at him, 'Please don't let this happen, please Martin please!'
We both cried for a long time in each other's arms. During the next hour, people kept arriving- my closest friends, my cousin, and at last Aaron's dad. I chose to tell them myself that Aaron hadn't made it. Those were the words I used because I couldn't bring myself to say that Aaron was dead. Everyone was devastated. It was unbelievable. We all sat together in the small room crying our hearts out.
At around 5 o'clock Helen asked if we would like to see Aaron. I was terrified. I was scared that he wouldn't look like Aaron because of his injuries but Helen reassured me that there were no marks on him and that he just looked like he was asleep. Obviously the police needed to see him for identification.
This was the worst moment of my life. I'll never forget seeing Aaron, lying on the bed, completely lifeless. He looked the same as he did every night when he was asleep in his bed. I put my arms around him and I kissed him and told him that I loved him and that I would never stop loving him. I couldn't believe that this was the end. The pain I felt was unbearable. I think it was at this point that I wanted to die too. I wanted to be with Aaron so that he wouldn't be alone. When you die you're supposed to meet up with your loved ones, but we were all still here, so who was Aaron going to be with? Who was going to look after him and take care of him?
I needed to see Joanna and have her with me so my cousin went to pick her up. Someone had already broken the news to her and when she arrived she looked terrible. She was so pale, her face tearstained and she looked like a small child again. She sat on my knee and we cried together and cuddled.
I knew that my mum and dad would be well on their way by now, not knowing that it was all over. My dad told me later that all the way there he was trying to work things out in his mind. Dad had always been our 'Mr Fix-it'. Whatever went wrong in our lives he could mend it and he would help us in any way he could. But he couldn't mend this and whatever he did he couldn't make Aaron any better. I remember the moment they walked through the door; Dad came first and then Mum. I put my arms around my dad and cried as I said 'It's too late. Aaron didn't make it.' Mum almost fell to the floor and I had to hold her up and sit her in a chair. Dad walked to the window with tears streaming down his face. I had never seen my dad cry before. Mum said, 'Oh why couldn't it have been me?' She would have given her life for Aaron.
We stayed at the hospital until 9 o'clock. I don't think any of us wanted to go home without Aaron. In the end we had to. The first thing I did when I walked in the door was to throw away the letter I had left for Jo and Aaron. Then I sat with my mum and cried for a long time.
At midnight my two sisters arrived. My elder sister knelt down beside me and was crying as she said 'I don't want to be here doing this.' My younger sister couldn't say a word; all she could do was cry. We did eventually go to bed that night but by six the next morning we were all up again. I think the shock must have set in because I felt like I wasn't there and that what had happened must have been a dream. It wasn't. The phone rang non-stop and people called round showing how much they cared. The cards that we received were overwhelming. By the end of the week there was nowhere left to put them all.
Of course we had to arrange Aaron's funeral. How do you decide which coffin you want for your child? Where you want the service to be held? And where you want to bury him? I didn't want to do any of these things. I wanted my son back but I couldn't have him. Someone had taken his life. I went to the place where Aaron had been killed. His school friends and people who I didn't even know had placed flowers, teddy bears and letters on the roadside. One letter stuck in my mind from a girl in Aaron's class. It said:
'You're too damn cool for anyone
No time to eat or sleep
You swan around just being you
The coolest ever dude.'
I place a red rose with the message 'For Aaron, forever in my heart. "LATER" Love Mum'.
I went to see Aaron every day in the chapel of rest and it broke my heart. He was so peaceful, so beautiful and seemed to just be asleep. At home he had often pretended to be asleep and after I had struggled to carry him up the stairs, he would open his eyes and say 'Not really!' I willed him to wake up; I begged him to stop messing about. But he never did.
As the days got closer to the funeral his friends went to see him. They had some photos of themselves taken on their bikes and they placed them with Aaron along with letters and the can of coke that he was going for when he was knocked down. We put family photographs in with him and I gave him the red handle bar grips he had bought three days before. Aaron was a great fan of Southpark so his Dad pinned a small badge of 'Kenny' onto the collar of his T-shirt. Aaron was dressed in his favourite clothes and his new trainers. In his hands he was holding a red carnation, which was so not Aaron. He would have said, 'I'm not holding that; it's gay.' I replaced it with a ten pound note which was left from his birthday money and said, 'Spend that when you get to heaven.' On Tuesday 22nd June I said my final goodbye.
I buried my son on Wednesday 23rd June 1999. At Aaron's funeral we were in pieces. As we walked in all I could hear was people sobbing. The church was full to overflowing. People had to stand outside because there was no more room. Aaron was carried in to the music of Celine Dion singing 'My Heart Will Go On', the theme from Titanic. I had decided to only have one hymn, The Lord of the Dance, as I felt that the words fitted Aaron's personality- 'I'll lead you all, wherever you may be, I'll lead you all in the dance said he.' I chose a song from South Park called 'Chocolate Salty Balls'. The vicar said it would probably be the first and last time it would ever be heard in church. It certainly brought a smile to a few faces.
Aaron's cousin had written a poem to read out but in the end they couldn't do it. I don't know how my dad managed to do it but he read the poem out as follows:
At Christmas time and family events
The family gathers and presents are sent
On these occasions we saw him often
The times we spent will not be forgotten.
When he was there, trouble was never far
His plots and schemes never fell under par
He was one of a kind, no one can replace
Remember the 'hard stare' upon his face
He was strong with his fists and strong with his mind
These contrasting qualities are hard to find
He was called Aaron, he was known far and wide
He was our cousin- our love will not die.
The police had been popping round to our house during that week and we discovered that Aaron's death was no 'accident'. I found out that I knew the driver of the car that killed Aaron. I had known his family for years. Their daughter and Joanna had been at school together since they were five years old. The lad who killed Aaron was 18, one of the local youths who drives around the estate at high speeds.
Ever since he'd had a licence he'd been a menace- first on his moped, and then in his car. On numerous occasions people have knocked on his door asking his parents to have words with him, but all to no avail. On the morning of 15th June he had taken his car in for repairs and had been given a courtesy car, which he was driving when he killed Aaron. There were over 40 witnesses to the incident, including Danny, Carl, Nicky, Scott and Mark, who were with Aaron when it happened. Danny lay with Aaron on the road until the ambulance arrived. Aaron died at the scene. A nurse from one of the local houses tried to resuscitate him and did manage to get a faint pulse, but his injuries were too bad for him to survive. I have since been told that Aaron had head injuries, a broken neck, and massive internal injuries.
The police gathered their evidence and at the beginning of July they arrested and charged the driver with causing death by dangerous driving. Apparently he had been driving up and down the road at great speed, windows open, sunglasses on, music blasting out, the usual boy racer stuff. He says he never saw Aaron because he was waving out of the window at the time.
The speed he was doing was estimated to be between 42 and 54mph. The reason there is no exact speed is because he never braked at all, just carried on driving. Consequently there are no skid marks to be measured. The speed limit on that road is 30mph. The road was in perfect condition with no bumps or potholes. It was a perfect day and completely dry. There is no excuse for what happened. It was simply down to the speed and the manner of driving. Aaron wouldn't have crossed if a car had been coming. Witnesses say that the car just came out of nowhere because of the speed it was doing.
There seems to be no remorse from this lad for what he has done. His life carries on as normal. In fact, the day after he killed Aaron he went and picked up his car and was driving around as usual. The police had to go round and tell him to show some respect. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and we are currently waiting for a trial date to be set. Whatever the outcome of the trial nothing will change for us. We've still lost Aaron. Life for us is now very different and always will be. We miss Aaron so much and every day is just another battle to get through. I moved to the new house, but it means nothing now. Everything was ruined on that day.
Christmas 1999 was terrible. To see so much hurt and pain on everyone's faces was unbearable. As we sat down for lunch we lit a candle for Aaron and we gave a toast to him as we held him in our thoughts.
I miss Aaron so much. He had so much to live for. There were so many things he could have done with his life. I often sit and wonder who he would have married and what his children would have been like. Now we'll never know. It's not only us who have been denied, it's Aaron too. He's been denied of his life. I try to look back and remember all the things that he said and did and how much he made us all laugh.
I often said to my mum, 'I don't want memories, I just want Aaron.' I look for Aaron everywhere- in the street, at school and in the town. I even open his bedroom door hoping to see him in his bed. I know I'm never going to see him, but I can't help looking. I write a little bit of poetry now and again. This is the first poem I wrote for Aaron:
No one can ever take from me
The twelve years that we shared
No one can ever take from me
The love, and knowing how much we cared
No one can ever take from me
The pain, now you're missing from my life
No one can ever take from me
The heartache, that cuts like a knife
No one can ever tell me
Given time, pain will heal
No one can ever tell me
Life's a gamble, you take the card that God deals
No one can ever replace you
You're my son and that will always be
No one can ever replace you, Aaron
For now, forever, for always
For all eternity.
When are people going to realise that a car is a lethal weapon and that a licence is like holding a licence to kill?
We are a shattered and broken family left to pick up the pieces."