Driver not to blame for son’s death, says mum

A GRIEVING mother who lost her teenage son in a Christmas Day road accident said she does not blame the driver involved.

Edward Heal, who was due to serve in Afghanistan in March, died following a collision as he walked to his Clevedon home in the early hours of December 25 - in an area where the street lights have recently been turned off.

His mother Elaine Coles has called for them to be switched back on and described rumours the 19-year-old was beaten up shortly before he died as ‘unbelievable rubbish’.

Mrs Coles said they were unhelpful to her and her family, including younger son William.

She said: “William is a 15-year-old kid who has just lost his big brother who he absolutely idolised and it isn’t fair. It was just a tragic accident.”

Mrs Coles, of Butterfield Park, refused to blame the male driver involved in the incident, which occurred at 1.15am in Kenn Road.

Ed was walking home after drinking with his 24-year-old step-brother Sam at The Bristol Inn, when he was involved in a collision with a Mazda. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Mrs Coles said: “I feel so sorry for the poor bloke who hit him. He must be absolutely devastated. I just want him to know we don’t blame him.”

However, she is critical of North Somerset Council’s decision to turn off the street lights and questioned where the authority’s priorities lie.

She said: “They really need to get those lights back on because nobody wants this to happen again. What they are saving isn’t worth it, it is ridiculous and stupid.

“I think it would have made a difference because the driver may have seen Ed, who was wearing all black, if the lights had been on.”

A former police officer, who does not want to be named, wrote to the Times to say that he believes the lack of street lighting in the area must have been a ‘significant contributory factor’ to the accident.

A campaign, backed by more than 300 people, has been started at Kenn Road News demanding the council turns the lights on again. An online petition has also collected more than 600 signatures and a campaign page has also been set up on the social networking site Facebook.

A North Somerset Council spokesman said no comment on the lighting situation would be made until a police investigation is completed, but he did say any decision to turn off street lights is carefully considered.

Mrs Coles thanked everyone who left cards with messages of support by the roadside and said the family would visit the site when the time was right.

One message said ‘Why did it have to happen?’ and another said ‘I’m going to miss you so much; you meant the world to me’.

On New Year’s Eve, many of Edward’s friends gathered at the crash site for a candlelit vigil, which also saw residents along Kenn Road put candles along the pavement.

Mrs Coles said Ed had his heart set on joining the army since he was 14 when he was at Clevedon School.

Ed, a trooper in the Kings Royal Hussars, had started his army education in Harrogate and Mrs Coles spoke of her delight at seeing him parade.

She said: “We all travelled up there and the pride wells up in you. He had his regiment uniform on and he had a smile on his face even though he wasn’t meant to. It makes us so proud.

“He wasn’t afraid. All the lads were hyped up about going to protect their country. He was always calm though I think he did it to protect me.”

Despite his tough exterior, Mrs Coles said Ed was one of the nicest people you could hope to meet.

She said: “He was everyone’s big brother. If anybody had a problem at all, however down they were, he would pick them back up with his cheeky sense of humour and smile.”

The funeral will take place at Weston crematorium in Ebdon Road, Worle, at 3pm on January 12.

Witnesses who may have seen the accident are asked to call the police on 101.