I buried two family members just 12 months apart after a brutal accident

I buried two family members just 12 months apart after a brutal accident

For most people, this time of year represents a new beginning and a new life.

But for Ella Langston, Easter is a painful reminder of the tragic loss she has suffered two years in a row.

Ella Langston buried her mother, Helen, and Jonathan just one month apartCredit: Ella Langston
Jonathan Langston was killed by a hit-and-run driver just before Easter last yearCredit: Ella Langston
Jonathan was killed by Adeel Safdar who reached speeds of 93mph with a 30mph speed limit before the collisionCredit: Ella Langston

Ella, 21, who lost her parents just a year apart, spoke of her family’s anger after learning her father’s killer would spend just over five years in prison.

Jonathan Langston, 52, and his wife Helen, 49, were tragically buried on the same date, just one year apart.

Helen, 49, lost her battle with bowel cancer in March 2022. A year later, Jonathan was killed by a driver who was driving at 93mph in a 30mph residential zone.

His devastated family learned in January that his killer, Adeel Safdar, 28, would serve only five years and four months of his eight-year sentence in prison.

‘A tragic irony’

Jonathan’s daughter, Ella, 21, from Manchester, said: “When her mum was having chemotherapy, she would spend a lot of time in bed, and speeding drivers outside would keep her awake.

“She was saying they were driving too fast.

“It is a tragic irony that just a year after she went missing, one of those speeding drivers also killed our father.

“We were very sad after we lost my mum, but my dad has really bounced back.

“He quit smoking and did everything he could to help us with our grief. He was just beginning to find a little happiness again when his life was cruelly snatched away.

Transport Minister Mark Harper says blanket speed limits of 20mph mean children are more at risk

“I feel very angry about the sentence. It is not a punishment for taking my father’s life, and it is certainly not a deterrent to others.

“I can’t imagine how anyone could drive at more than three times the speed limit and not expect it to end in tragedy.”

Happy memories

Ella and her three siblings grew up in Chorlton, Manchester, where their mother was a primary school teacher and their father worked in IT and ran after-school care.

Helen, shown here with her daughter, lost her battle with bowel cancer in 2022Credit: Ella Langston
A year after burying his wife, Jonathan was buriedCredit: Ella Langston

“The after-school club at my sister’s school stopped, so my father stepped in to take over it,” Ella says.

“This was the kind of person who was always full of ideas, ambition and ambition energy. He was really social and had a lot of friends.

“My mom loved her job as a teacher, was involved in the local church and did a lot of volunteer work.

“We have had many happy holidays France My parents were hoping to move there.

Incorrect diagnosis

At the end of 2019, Helen developed an illness that doctors initially thought was irritable bowel syndrome.

But tests later showed that she had stage four bowel cancer.

She underwent chemotherapy and surgery and the family rallied to care for her.

“We all had different roles to help out,” Ella says. “I did a lot of cooking.

“My mom used to say she hated listening to drivers tear up the roads near our house, and she was worried about people getting hurt.”

We couldn’t believe we lost our parents in such horrific circumstances

Ella Langston

Helen’s treatment failed and she sadly died in March 2022, aged 49, with her family around her.

Her funeral was held two days after Easter at their local church, St John’s, on 19 April 2022, and the body was subsequently cremated.

“Dad focused on looking after all of us after Mum died,” Ella says. “He was very family-oriented.

He kept busy, bought a pickup truck and was planning to travel. He was very social and spent time with his friends and siblings.

“He quit smoking, trying to be as healthy as he could.”

Double tragedy

But in March 2023, while returning home after drinks with old family friends, Jonathan was killed by Adil Safdar who reached a speed of 93mph with a speed limit of 30mph before the collision.

He was also caught on surveillance camera using only the right turn lane to pass another vehicle.

Safdar, 28 years old, drives a Volkswagen GolfHe did not stop after he hit Jonathan, and did not return until a short time later, after his friend made a phone call.

In January Manchester Crown court I heard that Jonathan would have been able to cross the road without incident, if Safdar had been driving at a safe speed.

Passing sentence, the judge told Safdar: “You know what you did, and you have expressed remorse for it.

“It may be very difficult indeed for Jonathan Langston’s family to accept that you have expressed remorse, and difficult for them to accept that this is something I have to consider, but I must, and I will.

“You drove at unusual speeds, which police described to Jonathan Langston’s family as motorway speeds, but which would be excessive speeds for a motorway. It’s hard to understand what made you do what you did.

He was told that he would serve two-thirds of his sentence in prison, meaning about five years and four months.

Speeding causes 20,000 road casualties annually

Nearly 20,000 people are injured on British roads every year due to speeding – and 70mph motorways are not to blame.

Research by Direct Line reveals that A-roads are the most dangerous, followed by B-roads on country lanes for Britons going too fast.

Between 2012 and 2016, there were 97,256 speed-related casualties, equivalent to 53 people injured every day.

One in nine road accidents in Britain over the past five years was speed-related, with drivers exceeding the speed limit or traveling too fast for road conditions.

Speed ​​is the second most fatal factor in crashes – second only to “loss of control.”

Nearly half of all traffic accidents caused by excessive speed occur on A roads, while one in seven accidents occur on B roads. Only four percent of speed-related accidents occurred on highways.

The worst areas for speeding accidents in Britain are the West Midlands and the south-west, while congested London has the lowest incidence of speeding accidents.

The judge said he reached an eight-year prison sentence, after a starting point of 14 years.

Judge Dean said he reduced the sentence to 12 years because of Safdar’s remorse and “good character”, before reducing it by a third, because he indicated he would plead guilty at the first opportunity.

Safdar was also banned from driving for 10 years and four months.

Horrific conditions

Ella was at university in Durham at the time of the collision and had to hear the news from her brother Paddy, now 18.

“I was due to go home,” she says the next It’s the Easter weekend and I called my dad the night before and we were planning to have a curry on the Friday night.

“Instead, I had to drive all the way back, during the early hours of the morning, knowing that my father was dead.

“My brother, 17, was home alone. Our older sister, Georgia, came as quickly as she could.

“We were all in shock. We couldn’t believe we had lost our parents in such horrific circumstances.

“My father’s funeral was held exactly a year after my mother’s, on April 19, 2023, in the same church. My father’s death was completely avoidable, which makes it very difficult.

“The road where my father died is a busy residential area. It is inconceivable that you could reach 90mph.

“If there had been operational CCTV cameras, Safdar’s driving might have been captured earlier and my father’s death might have been prevented.

“We were all in court, reading the statements, to my father. But when the judge announced his sentence, we couldn’t believe what we heard. It was very confusing. The sentence was reduced and reduced again, until he got to prison for five years and four months.

‘Very angry’

“We were in shock. It was an anti-climax.”

“Now it’s starting to sink in, I feel so angry. This does not at all reflect the enormity of my father’s loss. The punishment is not fair. And it is not a deterrent to other dangerous drivers either.”

“We scattered my mother and father’s ashes at the place they loved in France, and now we must somehow rebuild our lives without them.

“Georgia is back at work, and Paddy is starting at university. I’ve taken a year out of school, but I’m determined to come back next year. But it’s so hard knowing that Dad has to be here with us.”

“By sharing our story, we hope to encourage people to think twice about unnecessary speeding in residential areas, so that other lives can be saved and tragedies like ours in future“.

In memory of their father, the family are now fundraising for Brake, a road safety charity, and Ella’s older sister Georgia will run the Manchester Half Marathon next October.

To donate visit their JustGiving page here.

Ella and her siblings raise awareness about speeding in the UKCredit: Ella Langston

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