After years of hard work and graduating in early May, Rebecca McManus had her life ahead of her.
But on the last day of the same month, she was reportedly dead – killed in the tragic aftermath of a “Fast and Furious style street race” that went horribly wrong.
The 21-year-old, from Oldbury, was waiting to go to a bachelorette party with a close friend when 101mph driver Sukvinder Mannan crashed into them at a bus stop in Hagley Road, Bearwood – a 40 mph zone.
Rebecca died before paramedics arrived, while her girlfriend Harriet Barnsley fell into a five-week coma and woke up unable to remember the six weeks before the collision.
Read more: Student Rebecca McManus killed after two men raced ‘like Fast and Furious’ cars
Seven years after the 2014 tragedy, Rebecca’s dad has now criticized the Fast and Furious movies which he says “totally glamorize” high-speed racing and “make it feel bad.”
âAfter Rebecca’s death it was almost impossible to sort out because as soon as you lose your child like that the world changes forever,â said Gez McManus, a retired West Midlands police officer.
âThe circumstances of two adult men running on a public road, with speeds measured at 101 mph on an A-road – the chances of that going wrong were so high.
“Even if they hadn’t killed Rebecca, they could have killed or neutralized themselves.”
Mannan, of Roundhills Road, Halesowen, was jailed for eight years at Wolverhampton Crown Court after previously pleading guilty to causing death and serious injury by reckless driving.
While the BMW driver he was racing, Inderjit Singh, of Cranbourne Avenue, Wolverhampton, was jailed for a year after pleading guilty to dangerous driving. He was cleared of causing death and serious injury by reckless driving during a trial.
âThe film that was cited in court was Fast and Furious – witnesses described the race as being like a scene from that film,â he said.
“The boy who was found not guilty [of causing death by dangerous driving] had a Fast and Furious poster on his bedroom wall.
âYou can imagine how I feel about this whole series of movies, it makes me pretty sick that they are still making them.
âThey’ll say, ‘We haven’t done anything wrong, it’s just a movie.’ But they totally glamorized it.
“It creates this subculture where life becomes worthless, cheap. ‘It’s just one life, you’ll only do two years and you’ll get out of prison.’
The accident that killed his daughter and similar road tragedies were “preventable”, he said, if motorists had “played by the rules”.
“It’s always been my frustration, how do people find themselves in a position where they don’t even think about the consequences of what they’re doing,” he asked.
âIt’s a ridiculous culture, that kind of treating roads like a personal race track. I don’t know how we got into this trap where everyone does what they want. The hope is that we can challenge that. . “
After spending years trying to “sort out” the tragic loss of his daughter, Gez points out that the sentencing of dangerous drivers should also be much tougher – with “life license bans” for the killers.
“The penalty should be more severe,” he said.
âI don’t think you should ever be able to get back behind the wheel of a car, motorcycle or any other vehicle after committing death by reckless driving. I think you should lose your license for life.
“I don’t think about him [Mannan] so much to be honest, it’s no use. We did not get full justice because he pleaded guilty and therefore got a third of his sentence.
“I think about the other person [Singh]. But it’s done now, he can never be brought to court again. “
Years after the court hearings ended and the dangerous drivers were jailed, Gez says he received another devastating blow as the killer driver Mannan asked to be transferred to an open jail.
âIt was another kick in the stomach,â he said.
“It was like saying, ‘Sorry Rebecca, you’ve lost everything, you’ve lost your life and he’s going on with his life.’
Rebecca had just completed her degree in English Literature and Creative Writing in early May 2014. A few weeks later, on the last day of May, she was tragically killed.
“The next few days, with all the shock and stuff, was the fact that she put all that hard work into getting all those grades in GCSE and A level and college and it was all taken away,” Gez said.
âIt’s so unfair. She would have had a good career in academia, and now seven years later I wonder where she would be now, I hope she’s doing pretty well.
âYou have to get it right and get back to work. It took six or seven years just to sort things out and get things back in hand.
âI was like ‘don’t create another tragedy, don’t be a victim of alcohol abuse or prescription pills or whatever else you need to stay strong.’ But it’s hard to stay strong.
âSome people fall by the wayside, parents die, stress kills them, or they kill themselves, or siblings become homeless.
“If I had had an employer who hadn’t been considerate, I could have lost my house, luckily I had time to go to work when I wanted to.
Speaking about the devastating impact on those who remained after a tragedy, he continued: âIt is impossible to go back to where you were. For me I had to let that go, I will never be like this again. .
“I had a certain lifestyle, it was all about fitness and cycling everywhere, here we go, I was like, ‘I’ll never find the energy for that again.
“The impact on my [younger] her daughter’s life has been devastating.
âSome days are really tough, you see something on TV or remember something. Christmas, birthdays, birthdays, it’s awful.
âBut if she had been an unhappy person, that would have made matters worse. She was a happy person, she had a great life, so there are millions of memories of Rebecca – a great vacation, her childhood and her experiences with her. fashion, holidays.
“It makes a difference because there are only good memories to keep. All of those memories are set in stone and they will never change.”
Rebecca’s story is one of many told in a new anthology, “Heartbreak, Hope and a Call for Change,” which was created by Road Peace West Midlands to help other grieving families and call for change. in law.
Copies can be ordered here, with people invited to make a small donation to the charity.
If you have been affected by this article, you can ask for help at Road Peace West Midlands via the website.
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