‘Wont be long. Love you.’
The poignant final farewell from a teenage daughter to her loving mum.
Just hours later, Jade Pickering, 16, from Chorley, and a student at Leyland’s Runshaw College, had been cruelly snatched away forever.
Nicola Pickering, of Eaves Lane, told of those precious final moments with her darling Jade after the young driver responsible for the crash was handed a community order.
Jade and her fellow passenger Tia Guye, also of Eaves Lane and aged 16, were killed in the devastating crash. Another passenger, Laurie Graham, 18, was injured but survived.
On Friday driver Jordan Clayton, 20, was told by a judge he must carry out 150 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to death by careless driving.
He was found not guilty of a charge of death by dangerous driving following a seven-day trial at Bolton Crown Court. He was also disqualified from driving for two years.
Nicola said she is “disgusted and devastated” by the result of the case, and says it is her and Tia’s family who have instead been handed a life sentence.
And in heartbreaking detail she has recalled the moment she received a knock on the door that was to change her life forever.
She said: “Jade was adored by all her family, friends, and everybody who knew her.
“She was the bubbliest girl ever, always had a smile on her face and made an impact on everybody that she met.
“She lived her life to the full but was also a great worrier, even when she was out at night she would ring home constantly to let us know where she was and what she was up to.”
It was because of this trait that Nicola began to worry when, on the night of September 13, 2009, Jade hadn’t returned home by 10pm.
Jade had earlier finished writing an essay as part of her course in Health and Social Care at Runshaw College, and told her mum she was ‘nipping’ to the shop.
Nicola said: “Jade was on her phone as I was in the kitchen and I heard her say, ‘No I’m not coming out, staying in chilling tonight’. She then came and sat in the kitchen with me, we were chatting.
“She said she was just nipping out for 10 minutes and did I need anything from the shop. I gave Jade some money to get some dog food.
“Her last words to me were, ‘Won’t be long, love you’.
“Time passed and I thought Jade had met up with some friends and was chatting. She knew her dad was on earlies and the rules were she had to be in by 10pm.
“About 10.10pm I started to worry as Jade was never late and always contacted us to let us know where she was and what time she would be home.
“I rang Jade’s phone three times and each time it went to answer phone.
“I walked to the front room window thinking she would be stood chatting on the front, instead I saw a policeman stood at our door and that moment our lives were destroyed forever.”
Nicola was told Jade had been involved in a serious crash on the A6 Blackrod bypass where a coach had collided with a Ford Focus being driven by Clayton.
Tragically, Jade passed away at Bolton Hospital before mum Nicola and dad Danny arrived.
Her fellow passenger Tia Guye was left in a critical condition and died in hospital the next day.
“Each day that night goes over and over in our minds,” Nicola said.
“We’ve been through the guilt: could we have stopped it? Hearing police, ambulance, fire engine sirens makes us shudder inside and out. I know that will be with us forever.
“On September 13 Jordan Clayton made a stupid mistake that took away the most precious thing in a parent’s life, our beautiful, wonderful, adored first born.
“That day he did not only kill Jade and Tia but killed a part of hundreds of people’s lives.
“Our family will never, ever be the same again, and neither will that of our family, friends, and Jade’s many friends.”
Jade, who formerly attended Parklands High School, only had chance to spend one day at Runshaw College before she died, has been described as extremely popular and was looked up to by her younger sister Leah and twin brothers Adam and Liam.
In the last two-and-a-half years over 3,500 people have joined a group in memory of her on social networking site Facebook.
Even when she was young she was known for her bubbly and caring personality, representing her primary school in many sports and even winning a ‘service to the school’ award.
That continued at Parklands where she was popular with teachers and pupils, and did well in her GCSEs. Shortly after her death, mum Nicola and sister Leah accepted the Neill Davidson Shield for Thoughtfulness to Others which had been awarded to Jade from the school.
Nicola said: “Jade’s funeral brought Chorley to a standstill and was held at the largest church in Chorley, which could still not hold the amount of people that attended.
“To us this makes us very proud and makes us realise how much Jade meant to other people, but most of all how much Jade meant to us.
“A lot of Jade’s friends still come to visit mainly on a Sunday where we still hold a minute’s silence at the time of the accident.
“None of us should be going through this. She had her whole life in front of her.
“We will never see our beautiful baby girl grow into the beautiful, wonderful young lady that we should still have here with us, all because of the mistakes that Jordan Clayton made that dreadful night.”
- For more on this story, see this week’s Guardian