Police officers have told of a scene of “devastation” after arriving at the scene of a M1 crash near Northampton which killed two young children.
The youngsters’ mum, Mary McCann, was sentenced to 49 months on Monday (April 26) after admitting causing causing death by careless driving while unfit through drink in August last year.
The court heard four-year-old Lily and her big brother Smaller, 10, were not wearing seatbelts when the speeding Vauxhall Astra clipped the rear of a Scania HGV, causing catastrophic damage.
Aylesbury Crown Court was told an eye-witness who stopped to help the victims heard the defendant frantically yelling: “God, why didn't I put their seatbelts on.”
PC Matt Diduca and PC Colin Riley were among the first on the scene and revealed how they talked to an extremely distraught McCann in the immediate aftermath of the horrific crash before taking her to Northampton General Hospital.
PC Diduca said: “When I arrived at the crash it was a scene of devastation.
“I was trying to help the fire crew save the children, but I was also mindful that this was potentially a crime scene and I had to do my job.
“Also the mother was intoxicated and was trying to end her own life.
“The enormity of the job doesn’t dawn on you until afterwards. It was very hard to keep my emotions in check.”
Lily was thrown from the wreckage while Smaller was found to be in cardiac arrest on the back seat.
Firefighters performed CPR, but tragically the two children died at the scene having suffered traumatic head injuries.
PC Riley said: “It was harrowing, but we had to stay professional.
“The mother was over the drink-drive limit, but we treated her with compassion because she’d just lost two of her children.
“We sat with her and tried to calm her down, and we knew we had to get a sample of breath or blood from her.
“We took her to hospital so we could take blood — and I’d like to thank Northampton General Hospital, whose staff helped us and looked after her as well.”
Experts estimated McCann was travelling at more than 72mph in a 60mph zone and had the equivalent of 98 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80mg.
Her vehicle veered out of lane two into lane one where the truck was travelling. She corrected quickly, but too late to avoid a collision.
Sentencing McCann, aged 35, of Bamford Avenue, Derby, His Honour Judge Francis Sheridan said it was “a heartbreaking case” but told McCann: “It is a disgrace, that you as a mother could drive a car with three young children whilst over the limit.
"You were also over the speed limit and you had insufficient car seats for the two children and failed to ensure they were wearing seatbelts.”
The two officers will receive an Excellence in Policing Award at the Thames Valley Police Federation Bravery Awards later this month.
PC Riley added: “I have mixed emotions about winning this award. It’s nice to be recognised, but it’s under very sad circumstances.”