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Unforgivable – crash victim’s husband speaks out

By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Unforgivable - crash victim's husband speaks out

THE husband of a woman killed by a distracted driver, who was checking his mobile phone, says that using a device behind the wheel is “unforgivable”.

This week, Ralph Blackman, from Hoddam, described how his life was devastated when his wife Yvonne was killed in a crash on the A75 last year.

He recalled how he was busy sprucing up the garden of the couple’s new home, where they had lived for just over a week, when a police car pulled up outside and turned his life upside down.

They brought news that Yvonne, 66, who had been on her way to meet her missionary friends, was being treated in hospital after truck driver David Shields crashed into her car at Dumfries.

Ralph said: “It was horrible, the worst moment of my life.”

However, the family were hopeful Yvonne would recover and return home, even discussing plans to adapt their house after they were told her mobility was forever changed. Ralph said: “I remained positive, I’d always talk about ‘when’ Yvonne came home, not ‘if’.”

But, the mum-of-four caught pneumonia and died in hospital two weeks after the crash.

This week recovery driver Shields pleaded guilty to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving at Glasgow High Court and he will be sentenced next month.

Ralph and family members attended the court hearing.

He said: “It was a very difficult day. I couldn’t hold back the tears.

“The driver had his back to us in the dock, his solicitor spoke for him and he cried.”

Ralph, a retired HGV driver of 40 years, says it is unforgivable to use a mobile behind the wheel.

He said: “Using a mobile phone while driving – I don’t think that’s forgivable.

“If it had been an accident, a fault with his vehicle, he had taken ill at the wheel . . . that would be different. But using a phone? That was avoidable.”

Yvonne, a retired carer, and Ralph had six children, 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren between them.

The couple first met a nightclub in Rochdale and instantly bonded over their love of dancing and all things rock n’ roll.

He said: “She was 30 and I was 40 when we met. We had a very happy life, never went to bed angry.

“We were both retired when she died, we had planned to live our retirement to the fullest. Yvonne loved holidays, cruises and dancing. She was the life and soul of every party, first on the dance floor.

“Yvonne had a lot more life to live. We had a lot more living to do together.

“All the plans you make in life, but you don’t know what’s around the corner . . . people really need to cherish each other while they can.”

He added: “It’s so important that people do not use phones when driving, even a few seconds spent looking away could be tragic.

“No husband deserves to lose their wife this way.”

TRAGIC . . . Yvonne Blackman. This is Ralph’s favourite photo of his wife and how he will always remember her


14th Jul

Putting families first

By Newsdesk | DNG24