Speeding drivers jailed after A24 crash results in young man’s death
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A grieving mother has issued a plea to all motorists, after her son was tragically killed in a high-speed crash on the A24 near Southwater.
Police were called to the incident around 1.25pm on 6 December 2020 after a grey Lexus GS300 lost control and collided with trees.
The impact sadly claimed the life of 24-year-old Callum Chapman (below), a car enthusiast from Southwater.
Callum and his friend had travelled to Buck Barn services earlier that day, where they had arranged to meet two other car owners who lived together in Saltdean, and do some filming for their respective social media accounts.
Callum agreed to be the sole passenger of the Lexus, while his friend agreed to be the sole passenger of the white Toyota Supra.
The two vehicles then left the services in convoy and travelled northbound on the A24, and were described by witnesses as racing each other far in excess of the 70mph national speed limit.
Mobile phone footage captured by Callum during the journey was analysed, and revealed the Lexus was travelling between 87mph and 104mph when it lost control and crashed prior to the Hop Oast Roundabout.
This footage is not being released by police at the request of Callum’s family.
Meanwhile the Toyota driver, who was leading the convoy, had by this time realised the Lexus was no longer behind him, so he turned around at Hop Oast Roundabout and returned to the crash scene.
He was identified by police as Michael Yazgic, now 29 and of Packham Way, Burgess Hill. He was arrested and charged with dangerous driving.
The Lexus driver was identified as Curtis Gaare Michael, now 37 and of Westfield Rise, Saltdean. He was taken to hospital having suffered serious injuries, and later arrested and charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
They both pleaded guilty and appeared before Lewes Crown Court on Thursday 3 February for sentencing.
Gaare Michael (below) was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, and disqualified from driving for four years and six months.
Yazgic (below) was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and disqualified from driving for 21 months.
Both will be subject to an extended re-test should they reapply for their licence.
In passing sentencing, Her Honour Judge Laing QC said the defendants “used the A24 as a race track to show off”.
She added: “You were prepared to create a substantial risk to other road users by driving at grossly excessive speeds.”
Investigating Officer, Lauren Upton, from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “Tragically, Callum Chapman had been recording footage on his mobile phone from inside the Lexus. This captured the moments leading to the collision and the collision itself, as well as the dangerous driving by Gaare Michael and Yazgic.
“The shocking footage showed both defendants driving at a grossly excessive speed on a busy dual carriageway on a Sunday afternoon with many other road users around, all of whom were driving at a sensible speed.
“Their actions of choosing to ‘show off’ their high performance cars resulted in devastating consequences for Callum’s family and friends.
“We will continue to investigate serious collisions and bring to justice those who compromise the safety of themselves and others on our roads in Sussex.’’
Callum’s mother Jillie Slope issued the following statement:
“Callum was just 24. His life had just turned a corner for the better. His mental health was much improved and he had finally got a job where his autism didn't matter. He was so happy.
“On 6 December 2020 a selfish driver, showing off with no concern for his passenger, drove above the speed limit reaching excessive speeds and took my son’s life in a split second. We lost a son and a brother, a step-son, step-brother and a friend to so many.
“His sister Madi will not have her brother walking her down the aisle at her wedding and he won't be the amazing uncle to her children that I know he would have been. She will miss his craziness, tormenting her, popping into her room for chats, borrowing a fiver and his protectiveness as her big brother.
“His friends have lost their confidant, the detecting buddy, the car fanatic, the clown, the historian, the joker and their mediator and protector.
“As his mum, there will be no chance of any grandchildren, no phone calls, no hugs, no daily chats, no more dad jokes every night at the dinner table and no spontaneous trips. The infectious, crazy laugh that would carry for a fair distance. The phone calls of excitement when he went metal detecting and dug up a hammered coin. The tears and utter joy when he helped an injured or lost animal. The chaos he brought home will be missed.
“Everyone's world exploded and the ripple effect from his loss is far reaching and devastating. The bright shining beacon that you were has been put out far too soon, the world is now a darker place without you.
“I would urge all drivers to think before putting their foot down on the accelerator. Think about the potential consequences of your actions. Speed kills.”
Speeding is one of the five most common causes of serious injury and fatal collisions across the county. Police work with partners including communities and local authorities to educate motorists around the risks of driving at excess speed, and anyone caught committing offences will be dealt with robustly.
Find out more the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership here.