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22 April 2013, 13:05
A 19-year-old is beginning a prison sentence after a crash which killed his best friend.
As a 19-year-old man begins a prison sentence for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, officers from Norfolk Police are bidding to educate every teenager in the county before they get behind the wheel, with the support of the family of the young man who died.
Joseph Salah-Eldin admitted drinking and driving on Saturday 29 September 2012. The teenager from Wallace Twite Way in Dersingham was driving along the A149 Lynn Road in Heacham with three other friends when his Vauxhall Corsa overturned into a field at 12.20am.
Sadly 20-year-old David Powell died at the scene. Salah-Eldin suffered a dislocated shoulder and his two friends suffered more minor injuries. The group had been drinking at the local social club earlier in the evening and had all got into the Corsa to travel to Hunstanton.
Salah-Eldin was over the limit and a collision investigation calculated that the car had been travelling at 101mph when it overturned, in a 40mph zone.
He admitted causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of alcohol and today (Monday 22 April) at Norwich Crown Court was sentenced to three years and four months. He was also disqualified for driving for five years.
Senior Investigator from the Serious Collision Investigation Team Steven Matthews spoke to Heart outside court:
Chief Inspector Chris Spinks of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit said: "This tragic incident has had an enormous impact on the lives of all those involved, their friends and their families. One young man has had his life cut short, and another faces time in prison and must live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life. Two other young men have experienced first-hand the dangers of drinking and driving.
"Salah-Eldin had only passed his driving test a couple of months before the collision. He admitted consuming six units of alcohol before he got into the car, but did not feel drunk so drove anyway. It shows you simply cannot rely on your judgement - the only way to be sure is not to drink at all.
"All four young men were wearing their seatbelts, but sadly this was not enough to save the life of David Powell and I would like to offer my sympathies to his family at this difficult time."
Since this fatal collision PC Andy Nattrass of the Roads Policing Unit, who is already a Family Liaison Officer supporting relatives of those who are killed and seriously injured on Norfolk's roads, has been appointed Young Driver Education Coordinator, with the task of reaching every 16-year-old in the county to pass on the safer driving message.
PC Nattrass said: "Every young driver can learn lessons from this sad case. It starkly illustrates the consequences of drinking and driving, and you are six times more likely as a young driver to have a collision when driving with your friends than you are if driving on your own. Your actions behind the wheel impact upon so many lives, not least your own if you are banned from driving and receive a conviction that may affect your job prospects.
"I have written to every headteacher in charge of a high school or college in Norfolk, inviting them to get in touch so we can educate the next generation of drivers who will be looking forward to getting their provisional licence. We deliver a hard-hitting presentation showing the dangers young motorists and their passengers face with video reconstructions and testimony from those who have been victims of a collision involving a young driver.
"Too frequently we see headteachers paying tribute to students or former students following fatal crashes, commenting on their personalities, lost prospects and the feeling of grief in the school community. We also see promising, otherwise intelligent youngsters being sent to prison as a result of fatal collisions. My aim is to speak to every single Year 11 student in the county, so they can see for themselves the devastation drink driving, using a mobile phone, not wearing a seatbelt and speeding can cause.
"I do not want to discourage any young person from driving – I just want to equip them with the knowledge so they can do so safely."
David's family added: "Sudden car crash tragedies, caused by speeding and alcohol, devastates families and changes lives forever. No-one can foresee the impact of the loss, grief, anger, bewilderment and heartbreak of losing a loved one so suddenly.
"Cars, alcohol and young men are a lethal combination and young drivers and passengers need to be aware of the destruction this can cause; not only to those involved in collisions, but the families and loved ones left behind. Our family has been robbed of its future, our son robbed of his life - so many dreams and plans unfulfilled.
"We, the Powell family, fully support and endorse Norfolk Police in their major project to inform and educate schools about the human tragedy of road crash incidents and the need to prevent the loss of so many young lives. If this project prevents just one more young person's death and another devastated family, it will have been worthwhile."