The day you never came home.
by Lynn Hilton
My daughter sixteen just a child, but so nearly a woman, out with her young friends. How she had argued for that extra half hour, no 12.00 pm was the limit, and Dad would meet her and walk her home. I thought I had all the bases covered, what harm could she come to, hand in hand with her father, even the family dog along side them.
I was separated from Nichola's Dad and she would sometimes stay over with him for the weekend; she liked going to a dance night in town for under eighteens, it was a big step for me to let go and allow her this type of freedom, but she was the oldest of five children and I needed to let her have her space. I had gone to drop her off at her fathers home I asked him to make sure the 12 pm rule was kept too, she poked her head around the car door as I was going and kissed me, she was such a pretty little thing and that was the last time I saw her alive.
I went home did the usual things that mums do, cooked a meal for the family, bathed the three youngest, seen them all to bed, sat down with my partner to watch some television, fell asleep, then later went to bed. 4:30am there as a banging on the front door I woke and told my partner to open the door, I was a few seconds behind him slipping my jeans and a t shirt on, I looked down the stairs I could see it was the Police. My partner pushed passed me and was being sick in the bathroom.
I thought something had happened to his Mum as she had been ill for some years and was in her seventies, so when the policeman asked me if I was the wife of Jeffery Hilton, I was taken aback, they asked me to sit down, they told me he had been in a car crash and was fighting for his life in hospital and I should make my way there. I made no connection with Nichola I just began to get my shoes, he pushed me back down into the chair and held my hand and asked was I the mother of Nichola Hilton; I looked at him and could tell from the officers face he didn't want to say the words, but he then said I have to inform you that she is dead.
I tried to stand and my legs would not hold me, I began screaming and woke my eldest son he was fourteen, I remember him asking what's up Mum, I looked at the Officer and asked him what do I say and he said you tell him, all I could say was "It's Nichola she isn't coming home, she's dead". I was taken by police car to the hospital were her dad was in surgery with internal bleeding and a broken neck.
In the car the officer told us they had been walking home on the pavement and a car had mounted the pavement and mowed them down. They had information that the driver was drunk and they had not stopped; he told us that we should get a solicitor, all these words were being spoken but it was if I was in the third person and I can play it like a video recording word for word, action by action but at that time it all just unfolded in front of me. I don't remember feeling or saying anything, it must of been shock. On arrival at the hospital the police officer took me into a room were he explained this had happened at 12:15pm and because the only relative they had traced was Jefferys sister and she had been in too much shock to give them my address that's why it had taken so long to find us, she hadn't been up to identifying Nichola.
So it was up to me. He expained how she had landed on the bonnet of the car and been driven at speed head first against a brickwall and had sustained horrific head and face injuries, so it would be a case of looking at her clothing and giving information about any birthmarks she may have. I told him I need to go to her but I don't think I can, I felt so guilty. The officer told me it could mentally effect me for life and the best way to deal with it was to look at her clothing.
How can a mother be scared to see her own child? But I was. I couldn't bear to see my beautiful girl destroyed. I walked into a room; a young nurse showed me some blood soaked black pants and a leather belt, the belt wasn't hers, she must of borrowed it from her mates. They needed more; the policeman asked for her top; the nurse said it would be too distresssing. I told them she had been wearing a pair of gold stud type earings; she shook her head. I then told the officer she has a small birthmark the size of a chocolate button on the base of her back, he left the room.
I prayed it wasn't there, he came back and nodded. I seemed void of any emotion, just shell shocked and stunned, they then told me my husband had come out of surgery and was asking for his daughter he hadn't been told that she was dead and they were asking for a relative to be present. I couldn't. I froze to the spot, my partner went into the room and I heard her dad scream out as he was told, it was something I will never forget, it was a scream from his soul like a wounded animal.
Then after all this we were told we could go, go where? We called a cab and I asked the taxi driver to take me to a florist. It was early morning and people were going to work just as normal, I wanted to go to were she had died. Too late, I couldn't protect her now, but she would know I came as soon as I could. It was on a railway bridge where the incident had happend and as I climbed up the embankment blowing in the grass was strands of her aurburn hair with parts of her scalp still attached, it was only then I realised how brutal her death had been. The missing earings were found embedded in the brige wall. I lay a bunch of yellow roses and left.
Over the following two weeks it became clear a thiry two year old man with five passengers had been drinking heavily all day and got into the car, ploughed into them as they walked home, they hadn't stopped or called an ambulance. In fact they had pushed her dad off the bonnet of the vehicle and left him dying next to his dead daughter. They went home and the two women in the vehicle had washed their clothing and trainners; these women had children themselves. Over the next 11 months I fought tooth and nail to get them all prosecuted for their inhuman actions.
British law when killed by a car is very difercult, it doesn't address the full actions of the driver and his passengers, they go for the one charge, death by dangerous driving. After three previous pleas of not guilty he finally pleaded gultiy to causing the death of Nichola Jane Hilton and was sentenced to three years of which he served two years. He had been banned three times before killing my daughter. I had her for sixteen years, she was such a loving gentle young women, and they took her life in such a brutal and uncaring way.
I can never forgive, people will always make mistakes in their lives, its human nature. It's what they do after making the mistakes, to leave innocent people dying in the road after ploughing into them and not to ring an ambulance, to cover up a death and report the car stolen knowing they had killed a sixteen year old child, it's that, that I can never forgive. In fact, one of these passengers was one of her dads neighbours, he knew who he had left dying, he only lived a few doors away.
I have campaigned with my children tirelessly, I have taken 690 victims like myself to Downing street, delivered a pertition with a million signatures that we collected on the streets of five major cities to get tougher sentences for drink drive killings, which I belive is a deterrant. I have made several television programs about the law and Nicholas case. Nicholas story is told by the B.B.C. and is shown to drink driving offenders in a bid to rehabilitate them and stop them re-offending.
That has had amazing results, of which as a family we are very proud. It was important to me that as a family we didn't just accept what happened, we tried to get something positive in her name as a healing for my children too. Nichola was a child that had a very caring nature. so using her story to help others would have her approval. Throwing myself into all this work and campaigning is how I got through a very dark time, but it had its cost, my private pain, my familys needs, and its only now that I can step back and let life back in, now that I feel we have done something positive. I have now learned to let the death go. I have lived it day in day out for so long. it was how I coped
I thought I had LOST Nichola forever on the night she never came home, but I see her in the faces of my other children as they sleep. I hear her gentle tones in their laughter and see her sense of humor in the boys as they tell their jokes. Her spirit has come home, and I feel I am now begining to let life back in, but it's been a long journey. For others who too have lost, I hope I can bring comfort to them in the knowlege that it can be a long road to healing but it will come. Like me there is a day when you will feel the spirit of their loved one around them and that's when the healing begins and you can let life back in and move forward.