It was a fine day although the March wind gusting over the North Yorkshire moors had a real chill to it. It was early about eight thirty and really only now becoming fully light. Miriam Lowther was driving away from Ashfordly over the moors, her young daughter, Daisy, in the back of the car behind her. Eight year old Daisy was not happy.
"But why do I have to stay with Nana?" she asked her mother in a whiney voice that made her mother grit her teeth. "I want to go with you an' Dad."
"Daisy we have talked this out. You know Daddy and I have to go to Scotland. Its all to do with Daddy's work. Very boring for you. And you said you would much rather stay with Nanny in Whitby."
"I don't want to! I've changed my mind!"
"Well its just too late now I'm afraid. I'm going to leave you with Nanny – you will be quite happy with her, you love going to Nanny's – and then I have to get home to pack for your Daddy and I. And I am late Daisy so no more arguing. Please!" Miriam could feel one of her headaches starting. She pushed her accelerator down a little more the car responding instantly. Yet she was not driving dangerously. What happened was an accident. Without doubt.
On the road here on the high moor the moor lay just below the road and to either side of the road were sloping embankments. Miriam remembered hearing a loud bang as a tyre blew. She did not know that was the cause of the bang until later. The car seemed to acquire a life of its own. It slewed across the road and the twisting road camber flipped the car over. It bounced down the embankment perhaps once or twice before coming to rest somehow right side up on the moor.
Phil Bellamy and Nick Rowan were someway behind Miriam's car but heading in the same direction. Phil was driving, Nick on the passenger side.
"So what's with all the overtime you're doing?" Nick was curious. "You've put your name down again."
"Need t'money don't I? I've booked an holiday to Spain. For me and Tracey." This was Phil's latest girlfriend. He had decided she was "the one" but as he had thought this about a few of his other conquests, no one was taking much notice. "Cost me a packet though."
Nick grinned. "Must be serious mate. Does she know."
"Yeah. She's happy but then she ain't paying for it is she?" Phil said with a grimace.
Nick looked at him thoughtfully wondering how much to say. He had a feeling Tracey was not looking for long term like Phil was and Nick knew a few of the other lads thought the same. But he didn't want to disillusion poor Phil and so he said nothing. He looked out of the window over the moor and then drew his breath in sharply.
"Phil, pull over now!"
Phil pulled up hard. Nick jumped out of the car to run down to the car he had seen from the road. Phil got out, reaching for the radio first.
"Nick be careful! Its going to blow."
There was petrol everywhere, flames beginning to lick out of the engine. Maybe they had a few minutes. That was all. Nick got to the driver's side. Miriam was banging on the door from the inside. Nick tried the handle and burnt his hand in doing so. The door was red hot and jammed. So was the rear door on that side. Nick got round the car. He opened the opposite passenger door. "Come on, move!" He half dragged her across the passenger side not caring right now if she was hurt. She would be dead if he didn't get her out.
"Daisy, Daisy, my daughter.."
The child was screaming in the back seat. "Mummy!"
"I'll get her," Nick gasped. "Just go, now!"
Phil was behind him now and swung Miriam into his arms shouting to Nick, "Well done, now get out of here."
"I'll just get the little girl Phil."
Phil moved Miriam a safe distance away, let her down to the ground and knelt in front of her. "Are you hurt, luv?" He took off his greatcoat, wrapped it round her and then became aware that Nick wasn't behind him.
Nick had opened the rear door. Daisy put her arms round his neck. "All right darling, going to your Mum now."
"My leg, my leg…"
Nick's stomach lurched. Somehow the runner from the passenger seat in front of Daisy had literally gone through the poor child's leg. The little girl was trapped hideously.
"Nick. For Christ sake!" he heard Phil scream.
"She's trapped Phil. Her leg…"
"Then leave her. Nick for God's sake, leave her. "
"No, No!"Miriam was up and trying to run to the car. But Phil had her and although she hit out at him he would not let go.
"Nick!" He screamed again.
Nick slowly backed away from the child. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Her arms fell from his neck. He moved away from the car. He was still very close when it exploded into a ball of flame.
Phil instinctively pushed Miriam down to the floor and protected her body with his. After the first explosion there were several smaller ones…..then an eerie silence.
Phil looked stunned at the blazing vehicle. He then looked across at Nick lying perilously close to the car. "Nick!" He was on his feet now to get to his colleague. But Miriam was also up and running to the car. He grabbed her. "No!"
She was beyond reason. Phil could not get to Nick, he dare not let go of her. He shouted to Nick, "Nick are you all right? Nick?" But Nick did not move.
He glanced up as a car screeched to a halt on the road above. A figure came racing down the embankment to Phil and the young woman. "Sarge!" Phil nearly collapsed in relief when he saw Sergeant Blaketon. "Sarge….Nick pulled this lady out of the car. I had her and Nick went back to get her little girl" Phil's voice was breaking. "She had her arms round Nick and she was crying but she was trapped. He couldn't get her out Sarge.."
Miriam slid back to the floor sobbing Phil crouched down beside her. "I can't get to Nick, Sarge.." he was saying but Blaketon was already there.
As he got to Nick, Nick was sitting up and had just finished being sick. Blaketon made a quick assessment. Blood from a head wound. Glass probably. He noted Nick's eyes were glazed. Shock or perhaps a head injury or both?. He knelt down not sure if Nick could hear him.
"Young Bellamy told me. Nick,I'm that sorry. This shouldn't happen to anyone. You won't believe me now but you did well to get anyone out of that car." Blaketon put a hand on Nick's shoulder. "We'll look after you lad."
Nick just didn't seem to hear. He started to get to his feet. "No, stay where you are," Blaketon began but Nick shook his head and seemed determined to want to get up.
"All right but I'll help you." Oscar Blaketon put an arm round Nick and supported his young constable to his feet. They began to walk towards the road as a battery of vehicles arrived – ambulances, fire brigade. More police cars.
Miriam was sitting on the embankment with an ambulance man tending her. She suddenly sprang up as Nick came closer. Phil grabbed her as she seemed intent on launching herself at Nick.
She was screaming, "You! It was you! Left a child to die to save your own skin!"
As she was bundled into an ambulance Blaketon eased Nick down into a sitting position on the road side and got in front of him saying, "I don't know if you can hear me Nick but she's distraught, she doesn't know what she's saying. You couldn't have done any more. Do you hear me?"
But Nick gave no sign and Blaketon looked despairingly up at Phil Bellamy who had somewhat relievedly left Miriam with the ambulance crew and returned to his colleague's side.