ONE YEAR ago today a community was rocked by a horror crash that left a young boy fighting for his life and 10 other people hurt.
Two racing cars crashed into a BMW 320 in St Helens Road, Deane, as hundreds of people made their way home from a mosque at about 11.30pm during the holy month of Ramadan.
Driver Mohammed Usman Patel, aged 20, of Leach Street, Great Lever, was jailed for three years and 10 months and driver Furqaan Mohmed, aged 21, of Gibbon Street, Daubhill, was jailed for two years and eight months last year.
Both admitted a catalogue of driving offences.
Mohammed Vohra, aged 20, of Mancroft Avenue, Daubhill, who initially claimed to be driving one of the cars, was sentenced to a six-month jail term suspended for 18 months after he admitted perverting the course of justice.
Victim Abdul Raheem Hussain, who was aged just 12 at the time, suffered serious leg injuries and spent months in hospital.
In the wake of the crash Bolton Council of Mosques (BCoM) contacted emergency services and Bolton Council to and between them they launched an awareness campaign to stop such a devastating incident happening again.
Police, Bolton Council, the fire service and BCoM spearheaded a series of driving awareness events at mosques around Bolton.
The final event took place last month at Bolton Central Fire Station in Moor Lane, Bolton.
At each of the events firefighters reconstructed crash rescues as police quizzed people about safe driving.
Police family liaison officers attended the final event to explain to students how they deliver bad news to people involved in crashes and the impact crashes can have.
Ibrahim Kala, chief officer at Bolton Council of Mosques, said: “If you are going to get behind the wheel of a car it’s a dangerous option and it’s a danger to yourself and to other people.
“We didn’t want to just do this for young Asian lads but were aware that some Asian lads had been involved in the crash. We were aiming at 17 to 24 year old drivers who might hire a car, might get into their mum or dad’s cars and are impressionable.”
Traffic PCSO Gareth Walker said: “Driving irresponsibly is the race with no winners. There’s always a risk to yourself or others around you. The events at the mosques were part of a pilot scheme and it made people realise what the emergency services have to witness is quite tragic. We will never know the success of the events.
“For a couple of people the events brought back memories of the crash in St Helens Road, particularly for one gentleman. People don’t realise that the driving can have serious consequences.”
PCSO Walker said people had been surprised to learn police had powers to issue warnings to drivers suspected of driving carelessly or inconsiderately.
If they are caught driving in a similar manner for a second time the car will be seized.
He said people have since asked whether the events, which are believed to be the first of their kind, can be carried out in other areas across Greater Manchester.
Bolton fire service’s borough commander Ian Bailey hailed the events as being an “undoubted success”.
Mr Bailey said: “I think it’s been an undoubted success. Instead of standing in front of young people and preaching to them about road safety the community has taken ownership.
“In terms of whether it will be a success or whether it will reduce these types of incidents we will never know what we have prevented happening. Statistics are difficult to gauge.”
Cllr Nick Peel, Bolton Council’s executive cabinet member for environmental services, said: “What happened last year had a considerable impact on those involved and the local community.
“Our aim was to try and reduce dangerous and anti-social driving in Bolton and from the feedback we’ve had, the campaign has successfully got across the message that accidents can have very serious repercussions for everyone involved.”