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Harriet’s Story

By 7th February 2019February 5th, 2021No Comments
A still image of Harriet from the video

A West Midlands woman who was hit by a car doing 101mph is helping us to spread the road safety message in a hard-hitting video.

Harriet Barnsley, 25, from Bearwood, was just 21 when she and her life-long friend Rebecca McManus were hit by the speeding vehicle in Birmingham in 2014.

The pair were on their way to a hen night when a 33-year-old drink-driver ploughed into them in his sportscar. He’d been racing another driver and travelling at 101mph in a 40mph zone.

Tragically, Rebecca died at the scene. The driver was later jailed for eight years.

Now, 5 years after the collision, Harriet has agreed to tell her story in our new video which will be shown to thousands of West Midlands students and young drivers.

‘Harriet’s Story’ also features her parents, Rebecca’s dad, members of the emergency services who responded to the crash scene and Harriet’s physiotherapist.

In sometimes hard-hitting detail, Karen and Steve Barnsley recall the police phone telling them about the collision and the anxious weeks they spent at their daughter’s hospital bedside.

Two of our firefighters and two police officers describe the horror of the crash scene.Rebecca's dad, Gez, being interviewed at a fire station

Gez McManus recounts the moment officers knocked at his door to tell him his daughter, Rebecca, was dead.

And Harriet reflects on her slow recovery from her multiple injuries, operations and month-long coma.

In the video, she says: “I didn’t understand what had happened. I remember asking mum what was wrong with me. I thought I’d done something to cause it to myself.”

She’s still receiving physiotherapy, which also features in the video, and blogs about her life since the collision.

“The number one thing is to learn to accept what’s happened,” she added. “I think that’s one of the things that a lot of people find really hard, because they’re fighting why it had to happen. I think it’s important to focus on what you have and that you’ve survived.

A physiotherapist treat Harriet as she lies on the floor

“It’s been a hell of a few years – the hardest of my life – but I’m slowly getting through it.”

Antonia Gillespie, of our Road Casualty Reduction Team, said: “’Harriet’s Story’ sends a powerful message to all drivers and passengers about the choices they make on the road.

“We are extremely grateful to Harriet for her thought-provoking interview, and to all of the contributors.

“The video, which will be shared on West Midlands Fire Service’s YouTube channel and website, will also now form a key part of our education work, especially with young drivers and students.”