The daughter of a man who was killed by a van driver as he cycled to work in Hartlepool has joined forces with police to raise awareness of cyclists and motorcyclists on the roads.
30-year-old Laura Waistell from Hartlepool, whose “loving and kind-hearted” dad Michael Waistell, aged 58, was killed when he was cycling to work on Mowbray Road, Hartlepool, in July this year, has spoken of the “absolute devastation” that she and her family have endured since that day.
Laura has spoken out during Brake Road Safety Week as Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit raise awareness of vulnerable road users, particularly those on two wheels. Since June, 17 people have been killed on roads across Cleveland and County Durham, and 11 of these were cyclists and motorcyclists. Michael Waistell was due to become a Grandad. He was married to wife Patricia for 36 years and he was also her main carer, due to a number of health conditions.
Laura Waistell said: “My mum sits at night and asks me how we are going to live without him? I really don’t have the answers that will give her much comfort…She tells me that the only thing that got her through the long days was my dad coming through the front door after he’d finished work.
"She will miss out on their chats as they held hands and watched their favourite programmes on TV. The things that we normally take for granted are the highlight of my mum’s day. Mum and Dad had a marriage that's rare to see these days, they never argued and they were true soul mates."
We, as a family, will never get over what has happened to my dad. The last time I saw dad he gave me a big cuddle. I wish I never took his hugs for granted, and if I’d known it would be the last one I would have held on tighter and never let him go.
In October, 35-year-old William Lee Stallard from Hartlepool was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and perverting the course of justice. He had collided with Michael and drove away, leaving him to die in the road. Stallard received eight years and four months in prison.
Inspector Jamie Bell, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “Since the end of lockdown we have seen an unusually high number of fatal collisions, particularly involving those on two wheels.“None of us want people to suffer these tragedies, so we’re encouraging people to be more aware of vulnerable road users, and in particular those on two wheels. “Laura Waistell has kindly joined our campaign to help us highlight the devastating impact that road related deaths can have on families. The ripple effect on them is immeasurable. I’d like to thank Laura for joining our campaign and helping us get our message across to all road users.”