A former traffic officer who attended more than 30 drink-drive deaths said he has never forgotten the moment he told a family that their loved one was dead.
John Scruby, 59, worked in a family liaison unit for 30 years until he retired in 2010.
Now John is a trustee of Campaign against Drink Driving (CADD), a charity that works to raise awareness of the lethal
dangers of drinking and taking drugs and driving.
John backed the Sunday Mail’s Leave the Keys campaign and told of the heartache in dealing with drink-drive-related incidents during his time in the force.
He said: “Drink-driving isn’t about taking a risk or a gamble. It’s a conscious decision.
“You also don’t have to be drunk to be a drink-driver.”
John shared his experience to urge motorists leave their keys at home rather than getting behind the wheel after a drink.
As a traffic officer, John would often be among the first responders to the scene of an accident – many of which were caused by drink-driving.
After being called to the scene of a road traffic accident, he would be asked to break the news to a family that their loved one had been killed.
The dad of two said: “Speaking as an ex-traffic officer, we’ve got the loneliest job in the world.
“It’s walking up somebody’s path, to someone you’ve never met before and knowing that you’re about to absolutely destroy their whole world by telling them that person they love is not coming home.
“They say that over 400 people are affected by every road death.
“It’s their family, their friends, their neighbours, their colleagues. The emergency services who turn up and have
to pick up the pieces of the drink-driver or their victim. That stays with you forever.
“During my career, I knocked on at least 30 doors.
“I can remember every single family I ever went to. Every path I walked up, every door and every face.”
John, who worked for South Yorkshire Police, said telling someone that their loved one has been killed was bad enough. But the gut-wrenching job was made even tougher knowing he had to inform them that a drink-driver was responsible.
He said: “As a police officer, you wear a hat – but under that you’re a human being.
“Turning up at a scene of a drink-drive crash, it’s just senseless waste.
“You have to identity the victims then tell their family. You’ve got to tell them that person is dead. They have to understand they are not coming back.
“But it makes it ever harder when you have to tell them that their loved one is dead because of some selfish b****** who chose to drink and drive.”
John said that even now he cannot forget the horrific pain he was forced to witness some families endure. And one in particular left its mark on him.
He said: “I took the body of this young girl down to the mortuary and discovered she only lived 200 yards from the crash scene.
“Her parents would have seen all the flashing blue lights and wondered what was going on. When I broke the news to her mum, her first words were, ‘What about Amy?’I asked who Amy was and she said, ‘Her daughter.’ She was in bed, she was three years old and now an orphan.
“I never thought for a second the young woman would also have a child. I get shivers down my spine now even thinking about it.”