Return to A12 to Heaven

The early hours

By Phil Stoddart. £7.99. ISBN: 978-0-9559439-0-4


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The early hours

Extracts from Chapter 1
The A12 between Lowestoft and Ipswich is notorious for accidents. Like so many roads in Suffolk it twists and turns and rises and falls to deceive any driver who is not alert and mindful of its danger. At night it is particularly treacherous, as long stretches lay in darkness and the sudden lights of an oncoming vehicle can be dazzling even when dipped.

On the last night of June 2006, the A12 was a bit more busy than usual. A Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at the football ground of Ipswich Town was over and five happy youngsters were part of a steady stream of cars returning home to Lowestoft.
Claire Stoddart (18), had not been looking forward to driving. After all, there was the Ipswich traffic to navigate and the difficulty of finding a place to park. Driving back on the A12 was probably least on her mind and so she must have been quite pleased with herself by the time the car approached the little village of Blythburgh, near Southwold.

Whatever Claire was thinking, in the space of a few seconds it no longer mattered. The world suddenly came to an end for herself, her sister Jenny (15) and her friend Carla (18).
A Town Mourns
Also dead were two other people in a car that suddenly appeared over a hill on the wrong side of the road. Dazzling headlights must have been the girl’s last sight before impact.

The driver suffered a broken leg amongst other injuries but otherwise was ok. He was twenty-two and later convicted of causing death by careless driving while unfit due to drink.

As for us, Claire and Jenny’s parents, we were woken in the early hours of the morning by a telephone call from Ipswich Hospital saying that Claire had been in an accident. Read more

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