Tribute plan in memory of girl killed in Doncaster crash involving texting driver

M18 crash victim Jemma O'Sullivan
M18 crash victim Jemma O'Sullivan

THE parents of a woman killed by a trucker texting on a Doncaster motorway were today launching a new initiative in her memory.

Student Jemma O’Sullivan, aged 22, was a passenger in a Citroen Berlingo on the M18, near Warmsworth, Doncaster, when a lorry crashed into it.

Lorry driver Christopher Kane, in his late 60s, of Oakbank Close, Swinton, Rotherham, was jailed for five years after admitting causing death by dangerous driving. He had been texting at the time of the smash.

Now Jemma’s parents have funded a new initiative called Jemma Bear.

Some 500 teddy bears have been produced in memory of Jemma and will be used by police family liaison officers across South Yorkshire to comfort children involved in collisions on the roads.

Today’s Jemma Bear launch has been timed to link with a week-long police operation where an unmarked lorry will be used by police officers on the county’s motorways to identify motorists committing offences.

Inspector Pete Serhatlic said: “Any vehicle not being driven safely can be a lethal weapon.

“The launch of Jemma Bear is a reminder to every driver that you are responsible for your actions when you get behind the wheel.”

Vincent O’Sullivan, Jemma’s father, said “Jemma was a bright and intelligent young woman who brought nothing but joy to everyone who had the pleasure of meeting her.

“We are confident this project, which we feel encapsulates Jemma’s memory, will allow in some way to continue her good work and preserve what she represented.

“We are delighted to be supporting South Yorkshire Police with the Jemma Bear Project.

“On Friday, September 3 2010, the nightmare started when the police rang our doorbell at 11.30pm. We were told our youngest daughter, Jemma, had been killed that afternoon.

“She was hit by a HGV truck, while the vehicle she was travelling in was stationary in traffic.

“It later transpired in court, that the driver was texting for an hour up to the point of impact. During this time the truck was operating on cruise control.

“We now know first-hand how difficult it is to receive a visit from the police with bad news or to have to deal with trauma at the site of an accident.

“It is even more difficult if there are young children present.

“After discussion with South Yorkshire Police we felt a toy bear may be a comfort and a perhaps a distraction to children trying to deal with shock or possible grief.”

Jemma, a Sunderland University pharmacy student, of Limerick, Ireland, was accompanying her boyfriend as he moved from Reading to Newcastle to start a new job at Newcastle University.