Man whose dad was killed by lorry admits sympathy for driver

Douglas Brown (centre) who was knocked down and killed while riding his bycycle outside Kirkliston. Picture: Contributed.
Douglas Brown (centre) who was knocked down and killed while riding his bycycle outside Kirkliston. Picture: Contributed.

A MAN whose father was killed after being run over by a lorry while cycling has admitted he has sympathy with the driver.

Douglas Brown, 79, suffered horrific injuries after being struck on the B9080 Linlithgow to Kirkliston Road near Winchburgh Bing in July 2013.

The keen athlete, who competed in Iron Man competitions and ran marathons, died in hospital four days later.

His son Chris Brown said he was firmly behind a new campaign – Drive for Justice – being launched by the Evening News, i and our sister titles across the country, calling for stiffer sentences for death by dangerous or careless driving.

But he also revealed that the truck driver – who was banned from the road for five years and given 200 hours of community service – apologised for the tragedy.

Chris said: “I feel sorry for the person who did it because they have to live with it.

“He had no previous convictions. He was a clean-living, hard-working bloke.

“I spoke with him behind closed doors after it was over. A man of 61, he cried and apologised for what he had done. I said to him, ‘Dad would not want to see you like this’.”

The driver told Chris his father was the first person he thinks about every morning when he wakes up.

“So, you know, he has a sentence as well,” said Chris.

“But not everybody is the same. There will be some people who don’t give a toss and just move on.”

Douglas, from Leith, had his leg amputated and suffered internal injuries after being hit by the lorry as he cycled.

Chris did not get to speak with him again as he was put into an induced coma. He died four days later.

“Dad was a sprightly fit 79-year-old man,” Chris said.

“He cycled four times a week and swam twice a week. He did a full Iron Man competition when he was around 60 and had run 25 marathons.

“To lose something as quickly as we did, it basically takes the wind out of your sails. He lasted four days after the collision.”

Douglas was out cycling with a friend when it happened. The driver saw the first cyclist but not Chris’s father who was ten yards behind.

“A lorry came out of the junction and the driver had not checked properly,” said Chris.

“He pulled out of the junction at a really slow speed and basically ran over my father.

“He was caught under this 20-tonne lorry which was carrying 30 tonnes of shale sand. He was conscious but had terrible injuries.”

Chris had served his apprenticeship with his dad and went on to spend the rest of his working life in the family plumbing business. They used to cycle together every Saturday morning and Chris and his wife also used to holiday together in France with his father and mother, Wilma.

“We were a close family,” said Chris. “It has taken me over two years to get over it.

“The bloke who killed my dad got banned for five years and had to sit another driving test if he wants to drive again, plus 200 hours of community ­service.

“There are no winners. I don’t want to be bitter and twisted.”

Chris believes there should be mandatory jail sentences in some cases, such as the one we reported yesterday where Audrey Fyfe, 75, died after being struck by a driver who had previously knocked down and killed another cyclist.

However, he believes there is a huge difference between honest drivers who make mistakes and drivers who kill while on drink or drugs, driving at excessive speed, using their mobile phone, or who have had previous convictions.

“In the Fyfe’s case, the legal system in this country really let them down,” he said.

“There should have been something done about that because you just can’t go through life killing people and getting away with it.

“You read about it every week in the paper. There were two fatalities last week in London alone.

“In Scotland the year my dad died, I think there were 13 or 14 fatalities.

“Dad was a well-known person, he was a really good bloke. About 500 people turned up to his funeral.

“You could barely get into the crematorium.

“I worked with him all my life. I had to see a bereavement counsellor afterwards. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown.