THE SISTER of a Horsham man who died following a drink-drive accident has told the County Times of the ‘devastating’ moment she heard the news.
Douglas Wildman - known to friends as ‘Dougie Fresh’ - died when he lost control of his van on December 7, 2008 at the Farthings Hill roundabout on the A24 between Horsham and Broadbridge Heath.
The inquest heard that the 27-year-old, of Saxon Crescent, had been drinking in pubs with his friends shortly before the incident, and was more than three times over the drink drive limit.
Cocaine and benzyolecgonine were also found in his blood stream and urine.
He had been identified by a tattoo, say police.
His sister, Debra Wildman, a Crawley resident, has joined forces this year with Sussex Police and their annual anti drink-drive campaign in a bid to persuade drivers to drink responsibly this festive season.
Recalling the day, she said: “I received a knock at the door at 8.30am. It was the police.
“I knew instantly something was wrong. I asked the officer ‘is it my brother?’ he replied ‘yes’, I said ‘Doug?’, he nodded his head.
“I felt as though my insides had been torn out, devastated, I instantly thought of my mother and wanted to be with her.
“In days after it felt like a nightmare for us all, still in a state of devastation and disbelief, you just can’t process and make sense of what has happened.
“That Christmas we tried to get through it, there was a feeling of guilt for trying to enjoy it, or at least trying hard for each other.”
Debra explains how more than 50 lives had been saved from Douglas’ subsequent organ donation.
She describes her brother, who was a prefect at Tanbridge House School in Horsham, as a ‘very considerate, loving, caring, and generous person’, with ‘a heart of gold’.
She said: “He was always there for everyone always putting other first. He was absolutely devoted to his family and friends, they meant the world to him, his friends described him as a ‘legend’ with an amazing character.
“He touched so many lives in one way or another.”
One year after his death Douglas’ friends organised a charity event and raised money towards new sports equipment for Greenway School in Horsham.
Sergeant Phil Duffy, of Sussex Police Road Policing Unit, said: “It was just a moment of madness that killed him unfortunately.
“He was a responsible lad but made a bad decision that was influenced by drink.
“People drink more at Christmas. We don’t want to play Scrooge and discourage people from drinking and enjoying themselves.
“But we want people to be able to drink responsibly and plan ahead. If you’re going out drinking plan how you’re going to get home.
“Have enough money for a cab, have a designated driver.”
Since the campaign launched this year from November 14 for a six week period, Sussex Police have already breathalysed 3,317 drivers, 77 of which have been arrested.
Last year the force tested a total of 6,501 drivers which resulted in 176 arrests.
Debra added: “Take into consideration the affects and the impact that you will cause people. Just take some money to pay for a cab.”
For more information on the campaign visit www.sussex.police.uk