Martin - Interview 10

Age at interview: 43
Brief Outline: Martin's wife had a part time job as a lollypop lady. When she was standing on the pavement, she was hit by a bus, and died instantly. Martin was shocked. He is bringing up two children, which is a heavy responsibility. Counselling has helped him.
Background: Martin is a Househusband (ex-warehouse manager). He is a widower and has 2 children. Ethnic background/nationality' White British.

More about me...

Martin’s wife, Steph, had a part-time job as a lollypop lady. She helped the children cross the road when they came out of school. One day in September 2006 she was standing on the pavement when a bus went out of control. It crossed the reservation and hit Steph. Martin was on his way to the school to meet his daughter. He heard the loud bang and raced to see what had happened. He was shocked to see that Steph was under the bus. The emergency services arrived very quickly and a policeman told Martin that Steph had died.
Martin had the terrible task of having to tell his two children what had happened. His daughter was only five years old. His son was fifteen. His daughter was shocked but it took a while before it really dawned on her that her mother wasn’t coming back. She developed behavioural problems and needed help from BEST, an educational support team. His son became moody and withdrawn for a while. Both children miss their Mum very much indeed.
After Steph died Martin had to go to the hospital morgue to do a formal identification. He was shocked to feel how cold she was and to see the bruising on her face.
The funeral took place about two weeks after Steph died. Martin managed to say a few words. The church was packed with people. Then Steph was buried in the cemetery. Martin’s son went to the funeral, but Martin did not take his young daughter, which now he regrets.
After Steph died Martin felt desperately sad and at times contemplated suicide. He went to see his doctor, who gave him some tablets and arranged some emergency counselling. Martin found the counselling helpful. This was paid for by the NHS. Later Martin had some cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which was paid for by the bus company. The therapist helped Martin to see that it was alright to feel desperately unhappy but that he must decide to get on with his life and face the future. Martin found the therapy so helpful that he paid for an extra two sessions himself. It cost about £100 an hour.
There was a police family liaison officer who was supposed to let Martin know what was happening but Martin did not find him very helpful or sympathetic.
The case against the bus driver came to court in May this year, 2008. The bus driver was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but the case was dismissed after four days because an expert witness said that there was a 5-7% chance that the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel due to a sleep disorder. Martin still does not know why the bus went out of control and why Steph was killed that day. As the result of the court case the coroner decided that he knew when, where and how Steph had died so he did not have an inquest. This made Martin angry because he had hoped to find out what had happened and why Steph had died.
Since Steph’s death Martin has found it hard to continue with his social life. Babysitting is expensive and Martin found that he couldn’t continue to play in his band because that meant traveling at weekends. However, Martin is glad that he has been able to care for his daughter. She is now doing really well.
Martin joined the WAY foundation (Widowed and Young) and has taken his daughter to some of the activities that they have organised. However, he does not want to dwell on other people’s sad stories so is less involved now. He has also been involved with Brake, the road safety charity Martin is sorry that family and friends have not been supportive. They were there at the time when Steph died but since then they have mainly disappeared or lost touch. Martin feels very isolated at times.
Since Steph died Martin has been caring for his children, and so has been unable to work. He finds the housework difficult and at times feels that life has lost its purpose. He misses Steph terribly. They had a very happy marriage and Martin does not feel ready to meet anyone else for the moment. He is focused on his children and wants to do the best for them. He feels a great weight of responsibility and fears what may happen in the future. He takes one day at a time.
Martin was interviewed in 2008.
Text only
Read below

Martin’s wife was killed when a bus went out of control. Martin arrived at the scene moments...

My wife was a lollipop lady at our daughter’s school. She worked, she had two jobs, the lollipopping was something she really enjoyed even though it was only pocket money for her, really. It’s one little way she had some independence and liked to contribute to the house. She was, she was 35, our daughter was 5 at the time, and so it was a, it was a handy little job because our daughter would sometimes come out of school, and if I was working then she’d wait with her Mum at the lights and help her, and press the buttons and that kind of thing.
And in September 2006 a bus went out of control, crossed the central reservation onto the pavement and hit my wife, Steph, while she was on the pavement, and it was a full size single decker bus. It killed her instantly. I was off work that week and I was picking our daughter up from school and Steph was standing just, kind of, I was only about 100 yards away, but Steph was just round a little blind corner, so I couldn’t quite see the crossing, but I heard the crash and I ran, like I was the first on the scene, and basically I was, you know, I was the first one there.
How awful, I’m so sorry.
You can imagine what I saw.
I went into that hysterical shock, I was screaming, I was swearing, I only remember very, oh subtle little flash backs now, it’s just over two, two years now, but the little things I can remember, the daft things like the sunshine, I remember screaming, “My wife, my wife,” and I remember just the look of horror on people’s faces, the parents that you, you see, day in day out, and just with their hands clasped to their faces, and crying, and what, parents started screaming, I slumped against the, what was left of the school wall, and I couldn’t go up to Steph, I do, I just, I couldn’t, I couldn’t do it, just, because I knew, I knew straight away, it’s hard to explain why I knew but I just, I just knew straightaway. I vaguely remember the bus driver looking under the bus as well, and suddenly in what seemed like a few seconds there was the ambulances and the police there, they were there really, really quickly, I can’t praise them enough.
The next few minutes are quite a blur, I just remember asking this particular ambulance driver if she was, if she was alright, and he kept sitting me down against the wall telling me to wait there, so that kind of reinforced my first instinct that she was dead. And eventually, I just asked him, I said, “Is she gone?” I remember, the very words, and he said, “Yes, I’m afraid she has.” And you just can’t, millions of things are going through you, your mind. I just, I don’t think I cried to be honest with you, I just, the shock was so great, oh automatically, because I’m, maybe it’s just the sort of person I am thinking about the future, straight away, not, not even the short term future, I’m thinking about this void that’s ahead for the rest of my life, I don’t, I don’t know why I thought that at the time, but it was just something that I vividly remember thinking, my life has changed forever and it, and then the actual grief of missing Steph and you know I wanted to spend the rest of my life, we had a happy marriage, the actual grief didn’t start for a good few hours.
Text only
Read below

Martin was asked to identify his dead wife. He was shocked when he held her hand and found it so...

Did you ever get to see your wife again after that day?
Yes, yes, I had to go to the hospital morgue, two days after the accident to do the formal identification, the police liaison officer took me obviously, and my sister came with me, and Steph’s Mum and Dad and her two sisters came as well. I had to go in first to do the formal identification to the police, and I’d never been in a morgue before. We went to a little room which was just like a normal hospital waiting room, nothing out of the ordinary whatsoever, and they said to me, the police liaison officer, he said, she’s got some bruising around the face, I just did not know what to expect, I went in through this room, and she was covered up to her neck with just her left hand, they’d left out of the sheet for me to hold.
If that was a little bit of bruising then I wouldn’t want to, like to see what serious, she was, even my sister had to say, “Is that Steph?” ‘Cos she had to bear in mind that that bus has gone over her and it’s crushed her to death. I’ve only got very vague memories now, but I remember her mouth being open, and they’d done some stitching around the eyes, I think it was just to, but her face from the mouth up to her nose was black and blue, obviously there’d been a lot of, I think that tyre had gone over her face basically, and I just held her hand and I was absolutely shocked at how cold it was.
Text only
Read below

Martin had to tell his five year old daughter that her mother had died in an accident. She cried...

I didn’t, I just, I had one last look at the accident scene before, but my mind was so focused on my daughter, and having to tell her, we got to where she was staying, at Steph’s friend, Steph’s friend just opened the door, just trying to hold the tears back you know, and she just handed my daughter over to me, I carried her home, three, it’s only three streets it’s just, three streets from where we are now, and I carried her home, my sister was walking in front of me, with her boyfriend, and I just got my daughter in the house and she was bewildered, she knew something had gone on, and I just had to sit her down and say, “I’m sorry, there’s, there’s been an accident at the crossing, and, we don’t know what’s happened but a bus has hit Mummy and she’s, she’s died.” This was to a five year old daughter, she started crying, not tears of heartfelt sorrow, it was just tears of disbelief really, she said, “Oh she’ll never see me on the monkey bars again in the park.”
Which really, oh, that just, all I could do was hug her and just say, “We’ll look after you.” You’re just trying to think what to say, you know, its, “We don’t know what’s happened yet, we, we we’re so sorry, I’m so sorry, this shouldn’t have happened to your Mummy, we don’t know what’s happened, well, well, well we’re going to look after you, you know.” Ten minutes later she was asking to play out with her friends, and the shock and the dawning, the realisation that Mummy wasn’t coming back didn’t really happen for a good few weeks, you know. 
Text only
Read below

After Steph was hit by a bus the inquest was adjourned. The driver was charged with causing death...

After she died, was there an inquest, did they open and adjourn an inquest?
Well the inquest was put on hold whilst the police decided whether there was going to be charges. There was going to be an inquest and when we initially thought there were going to be no charges against the bus driver, the inquest was scheduled actually for Steph’s birthday, in May, which was like eight months after the accident. Then the police changed their mind and decided it was going to go to court, so the inquest then is put off until after the court case. The court case collapsed and I, I automatically assumed there would be an inquest, in fact the local papers who’d covered it, you know, had been saying have to wait for the inquest now to find out what happened and why my wife died. Then I got a letter from the Coroner saying, there was no point in having an inquest because they thought all the relevant points had been covered. It was only then that I discovered what an inquest was for, which is for who, when, where and how, but the how means literally how, you know she, she was struck by a bus, not how did the bus go out of control, they don’t cover that. And I didn’t realise that. So I got quite , a bit of a sympathetic letter from the coroner saying they were sorry but I am satisfied all points have been covered, we’re not going to have an inquest. And I wrote quite an angry letter back, in retrospect looking at it, and I do understand why legally there’ll be no inquest but I’ve still got no answers to my wife’s death, this is something I’ve got to, I know I ranted on a bit emotionally, I shouldn’t have done, but it was a polite and formal enough letter to the coroner, I never got one back though, huh. No.
But was there a Coroner’s Officer who communicated with you?
Yes, never spoke to the Coroner herself, it’s very formal, it’s very cold and clinical.
Did you meet the Coroner’s officer?
No I only spoke on the phone. 
Text only
Read below

Martin considered suicide. His GP arranged for NHS emergency counselling. Later, the bus company...

Yeah, I went to the doctors , about two weeks before Christmas, and just said, “I can’t cope anymore, I can’t face the future without Steph. And bringing these two children up alone,” he put me on some tablets that sent me loopy, and arranged for some emergency counselling, which helped. The lady, I can’t, I can’t remember what team she was from now, but she specialised in this kind of trauma and grief and was recommended to me from, through my GP.
Was that all paid for by the National Health Service?
It was yes.
Did you have to go to the hospital, or go somewhere else?
I had to go, initially it was at my GP’s, and then they found new premises, just near the city centre which was quite easy to get to. That helped.
Did you go once a week or more?
It was from, initially it was once a week because they were quite concerned about me, I was quite, I was quite concerned about me,
I thought I was going crazy.
I’m not surprised. And how long did that counselling go on for?
Let me think, it was about, about a year.
My solicitor who was dealing with the civil case put me in touch with Behaviour, was it Cognitive Behaviour, CBT is it?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Yes, she put me in touch with a lady who specialises in that. The bus company who’s, well the bus driver had worked for this company, the bus company paid for these sessions, she helped me as well.
So that was seeing a private therapist?
Yes, that had to be paid for.
Do you mind saying a little bit about the behavioural therapy.
No, it was a very nice lady from the Midlands. She travelled all the way up to [this town] to see me specifically. Each session lasted about an hour, and she just let, basically let me pour my heart out, and at the end of it she said, “Well, life’s rubbish isn’t it basically.” And she made me realise that there was nothing wrong with the way I was feeling, there was nothing wrong with feeling suicidal, and there was nothing wrong with thinking you cannot go on anymore. After a few sessions she kind of turned it round, to make me realise that the only way, there’s only two ways out of this, one you can go, you can carry out your threat of suicide or you can get yourself back on your feet, look after your children, face the future and whatever happens in the future, whether it’s meeting someone else, or finding new work, is not wrong, you know it’s okay to do that kind of thing, and you have to, well move on to put it very simply, you have to get on with life, you know you have to, without being callous I know this is going to sound very callous, but you have to leave what happened behind to a certain extent, and face the future, and its, it was okay to feel the way I was feeling.
How many sessions did she have with you?
Before you sort of got to that stage?
About half a dozen.
And then did you go on back seeing her?

Yes, I saw her, I saw her briefly for , let me think, I saw her, I saw her about another half dozen times, and that lasted about a year, so that was from about May 2007 to May this year.
So was that the most helpful thing?
I think so yes. I mean, there came to a point where I had to pay for some sessions myself, well it was very expensive, it’s was about £100 an hour, and we were, but I paid for an extra couple myself, just like a private thing really, just to put my mind at ease about some things I was still feeling, I was glad I did because it did, it did help. So she’s still available, she’s still there if, in case I need her.
Text only
Read below

Martin was desperate for help after his wife's death, but he was cynical about prayer, seeing it...

Did you ever have any sort of religious upbringing at all?
Well I went to church, it was different when we were younger, you know we were, my Dad was a lay preacher, he was, he was, he was a good person my Dad, he was a magistrate, but he came from the cobbled streets of [town] and he worked himself up, so he was a lay preacher and a magistrate, so he, he made me go to church every Sunday, but I never really had any strong convictions of, oh I certainly haven’t now.
So a spiritual belief hasn’t helped you at all?
No, no. The only, the only, one thing I remember doing was when I was talking earlier about the awful six or seven months I had with [my daughter], and her behaviour, I remember lying in bed one night and just, just for the first time in my complete adult life, I was praying, I said, “Please just help me Steph. God, whoever’s listening just help me get through these next few months, because I’m going under here, you know, and I’m going to lose [my daughter] You know so I’m not good with it, I can’t, I can’t cope.” And the next few weeks, her behaviour did kind of start to improve a bit, so that made me think; offer a little thank you to whoever.
So you think there might be something in prayer after all?
Oh, I’d like, [sigh]. I don’t know. I’m still quite cynical about it, I think it’s a kind of self defense thing people have to make themselves feel better, a part of me thinks someone’s listening but, I still tend to believe it’s just a cruel difficult world and once someone’s gone you’re left on your own. And that’s the black and white situation. I’ve been to the cemetery and I’ve just, there’s, there’s, there’s a little walk of about three hundred yards from I parked the car, nice little walk, it’s a lovely cemetery where Steph is, and sometimes when I’m walking down this little path I think something’s going happen, you know, to make me feel better, or she is going be around, but when I get to the headstone, it’s just the same old headstone in the ground, and that’s what it’s always like for me, because I’m just looking at a piece of masonry stuck in the grass, and I’m thinking, “What am I doing here?” I only I only ever stay for five minutes at the most, because it, it just does nothing for me whatsoever, and, I don’t know if other people get any comfort from it, I, I don’t, it just makes me feel worse so, I rarely go now. The only time I go is just to refresh the flowers or just try to tidy up a little bit. Just do it out of respect for Steph really to try and make it look nice, but I don’t get anything spiritual from it at all.
Text only
Read below

During the funeral Martin gave an emotional talk about his wife and people were ‘crying their...

Did your son go to the funeral?
Yes. He, he came in the car with me, and Steph’s Mum and Dad.
Was he glad to be there?
Yes, Yes. But he was very withdrawn, very sullen on the day as you might expect, there’s just nothing you could say is there? There’s nothing, no way of coping with a day like that.
And did somebody talk about Steph?
Yes, I managed to say, oh, I managed to get up in church and I managed to read half a page of A4 that I’d managed to write, very stuttering emotional voice, and just about, just about got through it, but I just said in front of everyone that I loved her, and that’s all I wanted to say, and I, it was okay, I managed, I got quite a lot of praise if you like, later on that night, my sisters were phoning up and saying, “I don’t know how you managed to say all that.” That was one thing I’m glad about that I did manage to do that on the day, but even the vicar said after we’d finished, “There’s nothing I can add to that.” And I didn’t realise all the church was crying their eye’s out as I sat down. So I’m glad I managed, that was the one thing I really wanted to get through. 
Text only
Read below

The school supported Martin’s daughter after her mother died. A counsellor from the Behavioural...

Did you get special help for your daughter from anyone else?
Yes they were, yes the school has been absolutely fantastic, I can’t praise them enough. But I went through a very, very difficult phase that coming, that winter, the first winter, and the first Christmas was very difficult. My daughter developed real bad behavioural problems, I couldn’t cope, she had a bit of counselling off what is it called now? I think it’s called the “Best Team”, B E S T, it’s Behavioural Education Support Team, and a lady came and paid a few home visits, but she didn’t really get a great deal out of that really, it was just, it was a long haul that we had to go through. There was no way of going round, round it; there was no easy cure, it just, time had to just heal my daughter a little bit. 
Text only
Read below

The liaison officer was cold, offhand and gave contradictory information. Martin wanted a link...

He [the liaison officer] was very cold, clinical, this particular police officer, there was no sympathy. Whether he was just, he seemed to give the attitude that he couldn’t really care, it was just another job for him, “No we don’t know what’s happened yet, you know you’re just going have to be patient. You know, well the bus driver will be interviewed in about four months time, we’ve got six months to do it.” “But four months, what’s that, but we want to know what’s happened.” “Well that’s just the way it is I’m afraid, you’ve just got to let the boys do their job.” And it was that kind of offhand, not, almost off hand, there wasn’t a great deal of comfort or, no, I’d just have thought he would’ve been a bit more sympathetic. I mean he is the, my link to all the legal channels, you know the authorities, finding out how my wife was killed, and he was my link to them, and he wasn’t particularly helpful, he didn’t phone me up for weeks, months at a time, not even to just to check on how I was doing really.
Nothing else happened until after the interview with the bus driver, and then he got a few things wrong. He told us first of all that all the charges were going to be dropped against the bus driver, when they hadn’t been. Then he had to come back and told us, told us that it was decided that he was going to be charged with death by dangerous driving. And I was like… this was in the space of a few weeks of each other, we didn’t really hear off him until then, until the court case, which happened in May this year.
He wasn’t, he didn’t, he didn’t become a friend, put it that way, and I would’ve liked him to, you know I really wanted that link between myself and the authorities, because I didn’t know what was going on and still didn’t know why the bus driver had lost control and crashed they way he did and got onto the wrong side of the road, and killed my wife who was on the pavement. But nothing really happened with the Liaison officer until he closed the case, which was only about a month ago, he came around here with the officer in charge of the case, so the two police officers, and nothing really happened, I wasn’t really able to ask him the questions I really wanted to ask, because I knew this would be the last time I saw him, and I just said, I needed to know certain things about the accident, daft, daft things, for my own peace of mind, like “did she see the bus coming?” And, “how bad were her injuries, did she die instantly?” They’re daft little things like that I really wanted to know.
And you felt you could never ask?
No, I don’t know why, I don’t know why Alison. I don’t know why, I think it’s just because he was, I think I knew this was the last chance I’d get…
When he came round?
Yes.Yes to kind of, he came he came round to give a summary of why the case against the bus driver collapsed after four days, because of a CPS expert medical witness, changed his story in the witness box, basically the bus driver was going to claim that he’d has this micro-sleep at the wheel, it was the CPS’s stance that he hadn’t, he’d had this coughing fit and he should have pulled over, but he carried on driving while he was coughing. And that’s why he’d lost control of the bus. 
Text only
Read below

After Steph died Martin had financial problems and lost his sense of purpose. With a young child...

It must have had a big economic impact on you losing your wife as well?
Yes, Steph had two jobs, she was training to become a nursery nurse, and she, she’d just passed her NVQ3 in Childcare, which is a really good achievement for her, I worked in retailing in the weeks, and played in this band at weekend, which was sometimes quite good money. I’ve, I’ve basically been living off some life insurance we’ve had, which has sort of been whittled away, it’s quite a big chunk of that gone because I just found it too difficult to go back to work, a lot of that sense of purpose has gone. When Steph was here and I was working, you felt you were working for something, you know? You were quite proud to go out to work and at the end of the week, the end of the month whatever we had left, you know, that was a little bonus for us to treat ourselves. But you, you obviously, you have a more sense of purpose bringing the children up, making sure, you know, you think of, you think everything’s just going to go on as normal, they’ll get to 18, 20, then they’ll move out, they’ll get married and you’ve kind of done your job as a parent. And I thought that was what life was all about, but since I’ve lost Steph and faced with, especially my daughter, she’s so young at the moment, the future’s a really scary place, I know my sense of purpose has gone if you like. All, all I see now is getting through from one week to the next, making sure she’s healthy and well fed and that her clothes are ironed and she’s doing well at school, and the house is as clean as I can possibly make it. I struggle with the housekeeping, but that’s been my purpose in life since the accident. And the things like work seems very trivial to me, for, apart from that you need money to live, you kind of, like the sense of purpose has gone and nothing makes much sense to me anymore, because I know we’ll all end up in the cemetery like Steph is. Can you understand that?
You’re caring for your daughter though.
Oh, yes, she’s my number one priority. I gave up work to get her through the first couple of years, and the only money I have coming in is a is a widower’s allowance which is I think only about £50 a week, or something like that.
Is that from the state?
Yes. The rest of it has just been some life insurance we have, I’m just trying to be as frugal as I possibly can.
Would it be very, would it be possible to get back into a part time job if you wanted to?
I’ve tried, well I’ve tried with music because there’s some well paid musician jobs out there, but organising the baby sitting’s just, it’s like a military operation, you know I have to pick her up from school at half three, and I, I’ve tried it a couple of times, I’ve not tried day time work yet, the school holidays obviously, you’d have to pay for some kind of child-minder. As she’s getting older now I’m getting more ready to go back to work, but I’ve tried like my hobby job if you like, which was as a musician, it, oh it’s like a, it’s like a military operation, I was so tired by the time I’d got her to the baby sitters, and got all the stuff ready for the weekend, and I come back and I’ve loaded all my car up, and I’d go and do this gig somewhere, and I’d have to be up at the crack of dawn to get her from the babysitters the next morning, I was too tired and after what I’d spent on child-minding fees, it wasn’t really worth it. 
Text only
Read below

Martin met the CPS prosecutor before the trial and was shown the court. He was warned that it...

Were you prepared for the court case in any way? Did they take you to the court?
Yes, we had a meeting with the CPS first, that was with all the family involved. We were told in, in as much detail as they could tell us that they thought it was unlikely it was going to be successful. And they said they would do their best, but its, but it was actually finding out where the “dangerous” was in the charge “death by dangerous driving”. It’s where actually the “dangerous” was, despite the fact he’s killed my wife, he’s gone onto the wrong side of the road and killed her with no explanation. Proving it proved to be exceptionally difficult as things turned out. So we were prepared for that. I was given a tour of the courtroom, it’s a big old Victorian courtroom in another town, just to get a feel of the place, the size of the building, because I’ve never been in a courtroom myself, just to, the smell of it, everything, just the feel of the seats, and just, just things like that so we were, I was I was prepared for it yes, I was prepared for it.
And what was it like actually sitting there during the court case?
I just wanted to, all I was thinking about was visualising the final day, when a member of the jury would stand up and say guilty or not guilty.
That’s all I kept thinking about for months, that, that moment, as it transpired it never even got that far, the court case had collapsed after four days, but you felt very removed from everything, even though the man who’d killed my wife was sat just below me in his little thing he has to sit in, it didn’t really register with me.
Did he ever say he was sorry?
No. No. He never said a thing in the court.
Text only
Read below

Martin used to love Christmas with his wife, Steph. He doesn't feel celebratory now. Last year he...

And you said Christmas is particularly difficult?
 ‘Cos you miss Steph?
Yes, this is my third one now on my own, and it just doesn’t get any easier. There’s no fun in it anymore, it used to be a special time of year, I used to love Christmas with her.
Do you get together with your wider family?
I only have a couple of sisters to be honest with you, I didn’t last year. I actually took my daughter to Spain for four days, on, we went on Boxing Day night which was quite selfish of me because that was for me, because I just wanted to get away, I couldn’t bear being in this house.
Was it good getting away?
Yes, yes. We had a good time, we enjoyed it. Yes. It was a surreal situation on Boxing Day night, middle of the night trying to catch the night, “What am I doing here,” you know? Catching a night flight to Spain on Boxing Day night, this shouldn’t be happening, but I was glad we did it, but I ‘m not looking to Christmas this year Alison, it’s, I don’t know it seems to be just as hard this year as it was for the first the first year.
I’m sorry.
It’s just that you’re there on your own watching her open her presents, that’s the hardest thing that, you just want Steph to be here watching, it’s just difficult.
Previous Page
Next Page