Fam­ily grieve for man taken too soon

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - KIRSTY LAWRENCE

As Sharon Jack­son sat in the morgue with her hus­band’s body, she clung to it tightly, want­ing to feel his warmth one last time.

Her hus­band was em­pa­thetic. A man with plans. He had a list of things he wanted to achieve in the com­ing years, in­clud­ing go­ing fish­ing and ‘‘get­ting his mojo’’ back.

But Grant Jack­son never got to do any of those things.

His death on Au­gust 5, 2015 was un­ex­pected, caused by in­juries suf­fered in a head-on crash on State High­way 57, just a few kilo­me­tres away from their home when a car ploughed into his truck.

Gary Drew was sen­tenced in the Palmerston North Dis­trict Court on Thurs­day to 26 months’ jail for his role in the crash. He was dis­qual­i­fied from driv­ing for three years af­ter plead­ing guilty to driv­ing dan­ger­ously caus­ing death and driv­ing dan­ger­ously caus­ing in­jury.

When Sharon Jack­son spoke in court, she couldn’t hide the anger she felt to­wards Drew for tak­ing her hus­band of 35 years away from her.

Jack­son and her fam­ily be­lieved Drew showed no re­morse for his ac­tions and even though talk­ing about what hap­pened was tough, she wanted her hus­band to have the re­spect he de­served.

‘‘To some peo­ple in­volved in this case... he’s just a name on a piece of pa­per, face­less, nonex­is­tent, no more im­por­tant than some stolen item. Yet what was stolen was his life.’’

Jack­son rushed to the scene of the crash to try and see her hus­band.

In­stead, she was turned away by emer­gency ser­vices and told to head to Welling­ton, where he was flown for emer­gency treat­ment.

On ar­rival in the cap­i­tal, she was shat­tered to learn her hus­band was gone.

Jack­son was taken to the morgue to say good­bye. ‘‘His body was still warm so I held him as he slowly left. The next time I would touch him he would be as cold as stone.’’

The in­juries he suf­fered were ex­ten­sive – two bro­ken legs, one al­most sev­ered right through, two bro­ken arms, nine bro­ken ribs and a punc­tured lung. He was also par­tially scalped.

But even with all of those in­juries, he ini­tially lived and tried to make things eas­ier for the am­bu­lance staff treat­ing him.

This was just the kind of per­son he was and Jack­son was strug­gling with­out him.

‘‘Now, I’m just an­gry I’m do­ing this alone, with­out Grant.’’

Through tears daugh­ter Crys­tal Jack­son, 26, said she and her three sis­ters had the op­por­tu­nity stolen from them to ever have their dad walk them down the aisle. ‘‘There is no pa­role, no par­don for me and my fam­ily. My dad is gone.’’

A court sum­mary says Drew de­clined to be for­mally in­ter­viewed by po­lice. He said: ‘‘I can’t be­lieve the wit­nesses are say­ing I’m at fault. The truck crossed the cen­tre­line.’’

De­fence lawyer Paul Mur­ray said Drew was re­morse­ful and had suf­fered in­juries in the crash.

Judge Lance Rowe said the sum­mary showed Drew had over­taken a car, which was trav­el­ling at the speed limit, at a point where there was a clear risk.

This caused a head-on col­li­sion with Jack­son’s truck, with Rowe stat­ing nei­ther ve­hi­cle had time to re­act, or any­where to go to avoid the crash.

Rowe sen­tenced Drew to 26 months im­pris­on­ment and dis­qual­i­fied him from driv­ing for three years.

Grant Jack­son, 56, died fol­low­ing a three ve­hi­cle pile up south of Shan­non, less than 10 kilo­me­tres from his home.

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