Grieving mother vows to fight on for A82 safety improvements
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THE past year has been “surreal” for a mother who lost her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren in a horrific road crash almost exactly 12 months ago.
Samantha Cousin (47) said she will continue to fight for road safety improvements so that no other family has to go through what she and those close to her have suffered.
Road worker Rhys Cousin (25) was killed instantly in an accident on the A82 near Fort William on February 20 last year, along with wife Gemma (26) and their children Peyton (3) and Heidi (1).
The family had lived in the Smithton area of Inverness.
In an outpouring of grief and community support, more than £30,000 was raised in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy for their funeral and to help road safety charity Brake.
The funeral – a true celebration of the young family’s lives – was held just before the start of last year’s lockdown and was attended by more than 1000 mourners.
Over the past 12 months, Miss Cousin has been a dogged campaigner for improvements to the A82 trunk road, inspiring the Courier to start its own Make it Safe! campaign.
“I do not want them to have died in vain,” she said. “I want to make something positive.”
Despite her determination to see some good come out of the tragedy she admits things have been tough.
“No one can ever describe the pain you feel when you lose a child,” she said. “I lost four, altogether on one night.
“It is surreal, it is never out of my mind and I don’t know if I, or any of my family, will ever really come to terms with it.
“When I first heard they had died, I found it impossible to take it in. “Police officers came to the door and I wondered if it was Rhys they were talking about.
“I said ‘have you told his wife?’ and the policeman explained that Gemma had died.
“I then asked if the children were OK, only to be told they had also died.”
Miss Cousin now lives in Orkney but said she used to speak to Rhys almost every day and received a video call from Gemma and her granddaughters on the day they died.
“I felt very much part of their lives,” she said.
“It has not been easy for anyone – but it is particularly hard for my children and their children.
“It wasn’t only my son and his wife – they had friends, and cousins and family and school friends.”
“Lockdown has made things even harder, we have not even managed to get the headstone up but when we do, we will again celebrate their lives, taken all too soon, and how much we love them."
Related news: Plea to sign A82 petition