Mum who slept beside daughter's coffin after beautician, 22, was killed by drink driver says life was 'blown apart'

A MUM who slept beside her daughter's coffin after the 22-year-old was killed by a drink-driver said her life has been 'blown into pieces'.

Lauren Danks, 22, had been on her way home from work when Nelson Curtis, 64, smashed into her car at over 100mph.

Curtis, who already had two convictions for drink-driving, had downed ten pints over nine hours before killing the beauty therapist.

Now Lauren's mum Claire, of Soham in Cambridgeshire, has spoken out about the toll her daughter's death has had on the family, including Lauren's brothers and stepdad.

Being told our daughter was dead was like dropping a bomb and blowing our lives into pieces," she said.

"The pain is unimaginable and there is nothing that will fix it.

“We think about Lauren every day and have many wonderful memories.

"But there are so many more we won’t get to have."

The night before Lauren's funeral, her devastated family brought the coffin home so the they could be together for one last time.

“My heart broke again, watching the boys talking to their sister, in her casket," said Claire, who that night slept on the floor beside her daughter’s coffin.

"We won’t see her get married, she will never have children. We don’t even know what she would look like now.

“What happened that night haunts us every day. Please don’t be the cause of another family’s tragedy. Please don’t drink and drive.”

Coward Curtis fled the scene after the crash, but was later charged with causing death by dangerous driving and failing to stop or report a road traffic collision.

He was eventually jailed for seven years by a judge at Ipswich Crown Court.

On the day of Lauren's death, Claire, who has three sons, had been to a yoga class with her daughter.

The loving pair had also had coffee and a manicure together.

Claire had then waved her off for her first late shift at Centre Parcs in Elveden, Norfolk.

She and husband Robert waited up for her to return to their home – a half hour drive away -but got worried when she was uncharacteristically late.

‘Drink driving can kill’

Charity Wasted Lives says there’s no excuse for getting behind the wheel after a drink. Officials said:

"If you risk having a drink and then get behind that wheel, you could pay for it for the rest of your life.

"If you're convicted of drink driving here's what you could stand to lose:

  • You'll be banned from driving for at least a year
  • You could lose your job
  • Your insurance costs will rocket
  • Your lifestyle could change dramatically
  • You'll be fined
  • You could face up to six months in prison
  • And you'll have a criminal record

"But it's not all about you – even worse than all of the above is that you could kill or injure someone.

"And if you do, you're looking at anything up to 14 years in prison, and you'd have that on your conscience for the rest of your life.

"Could you live with that?"

They tried to call Lauren – but her phone was dead.

Fearing she had run out of petrol or had a flat tyre, Robert went out to look for her.

Tragically, 45 minutes later he called Claire – and said her daughter had been involved in a crash.

He then told her he was coming home.

Claire said that when she saw her husband's face, her heart was "sliced in two".

Claire later discovered Curtis's first conviction for dangerous driving and drink driving was back in 1970, when he was fined and banned for two years.

His second two-year driving ban came in 2003, when he was again convicted of drink driving.

“As far as we’re concerned, a car in someone like Curtis’s hands is like a loaded gun," said Claire.

Cops in Cambridgeshire, where Lauren was killed, said driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can destroy lives.

Sergeant James Thorne said: "No matter how you choose to celebrate Christmas this year, please do it safely and do not put lives and livelihoods at risk by drink or drug driving."

How much is too much?

The drink-drive limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath – but one drink can affect your driving ability.

Around 100,000 drivers lose their licences each year because of drink-driving.

Cops say drink-driving is more prevalent during boozy Christmas breaks.

And there’s no proven way to judge if you’re over the limit by taking note of how much you’ve drunk, as many factors can contribute to how alcohol affects different people.

The only way you can be sure you’re safe is not to drink.

So how much have you had?

  • 25ml (single shot) of 40% spirit (eg. Vodka, whisky) = 1 unit
  • Pint of 4% beer = 2 units
  • 250ml glass of 15% wine = 4 units
  • Pint of 5.5% cider = 3 units
  • 250ml RTD (eg. WKD) = 2 units
  • Bottle of 12% wine = 9 units

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