Crash tragedy takes toll on family

Stuart Duffield inside his wrecked home on Longmeanygate
Stuart Duffield inside his wrecked home on Longmeanygate

‘We’re starting to feel like the black sheep in the community. People keep asking us when the road is going to re-open – it makes us feel it’s all our fault.’

Almost four months after a family was rocked when a high-speed police car chase ended in their living room, the event is still causing havoc for their work and home lives.

Self-employed builder Stuart Duffield, who converted the Longmeanygate barn into his home, is still negotiating with insurers over the incident – which has left the building falling apart.

The road has been closed since April 5, after former Ulnes Walton parish councillor Geoffrey Gill crashed into it in the middle of the night, as he was pursued by police. He died in hospital later that day.

It was hoped enough work wouldby now have been done for Lancashire County Council to deem it safe to re-open the road in August, but Stuart says his home is still a wreck.

“Nothing has changed for us since it happened,” he said. “There’s been multiple meetings and discussions between our loss adjusters and the deceased’s insurers.

“It looks like it’s going to be another three months, at best, before building work can be done and the road re-opened.”

Stuart, 42, who lives with partner Lindsay Cavanagh and their four children, has been told the top third of the building must be demolished and rebuilt. He says the long, drawn out process is really taking its toll on the family.

“We’re sick of it all now. We have been forced to use only our kitchen as living space for the last four months, and we need an extension lead to put the lights on.

“We can’t use the landline, so I’m concerned I’m losing work because of that, and I can’t go out to actively seek work because someone always has to be in the house – it’s still wide open where the car hit the wall.

“What we really need now is a holiday, but we can’t even think about doing that.”

He added: “It does begin to feel like it’s our fault because everywhere we go, people keep asking us when the road is going to be re-opened.

“We feel like the black sheep of the community now. There’s a lot of gossip going on, and it makes you feel awful. But we haven’t been in control of any of this from day one.”

Lancashire County Council has confirmed the road will remain closed for the foreseeable future.