Father warns people to ‘learn from his mistake’ after drink-drive accident left him paralysed and two dead

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 January 2017

Greg Sumner was in a coma for five months following the accident.

Greg Sumner was in a coma for five months following the accident.

Archant

A Somerset father left paralysed from the neck down in an accident which killed two men is making it his life’s mission to deter people from drink-driving.

Greg Sumner was in a coma for five months following the accident.Greg Sumner was in a coma for five months following the accident.

Greg Sumner, aged 26, says he has been given ‘a second chance to make a difference’ and raise awareness about driving under the influence after his life was changed forever in 2012.

At the age of 22, Mr Sumner was surrounded by friends and family and had a bright future ahead of him working at DoubleTree by Hilton Cadbury House, in Congresbury, as a sales manager.

But one night and one mistake put Mr Sumner’s life on hold and left two families without their fathers.

Mr Sumner was a passenger in his friend’s BMW when it collided with another car on the A371 near Axbridge.

Greg Sumner before the accident.Greg Sumner before the accident.

Vincent Atkinson, aged 31, 
was two-and-a-half times over the drink-drive limit as he drove back 
to Cheddar from Weston after the pair had enjoyed a night out in 
town.

A race had broken out between Mr Atkinson and a group of young men in another car.

Mr Sumner said: “There was some questionable driving taking place and as we came into Cheddar we were going too fast.”

The pair flew down the busy 40mph road at 70mph, meaning they took a corner too fast and drifted onto the opposite lane.

Father-of-two Richard Parker, also from Cheddar, was on his way to work when their BMW hit his car head on.

Mr Parker and Mr Atkinson – who also had two children – both died instantly and Mr Sumner was rushed to hospital in critical condition.

He had 27 broken bones, including his back, and remained in a coma for five months.

He added: “The doctors did not think I was going to live. During my coma, my heart had stopped completely four times, I had total organ failure and had a number of infections.”

Greg Sumner was in a coma for five months following the accident.Greg Sumner was in a coma for five months following the accident.

But much to the surprise of the doctors, Mr Sumner pulled through and woke up in February 2013.

He said: “About a week or 10 days after I woke up, my brother James and I were watching TV and the news came on and it said it was February. I was confused because the crash had happened in October so it then dawned on me just how serious it was.”

Mr Sumner spent the following months in a number of rehabilitation centres and care homes across Somerset.

He now requires around-the-clock care as a result of his injuries.

Greg Sumner after waking up.Greg Sumner after waking up.

Mr Sumner has had to come to terms with the physical impact of the accident but also said he felt ‘horrendous’ for the four children who lost their fathers.

Mr Sumner, who has a five-year-old son called Alfie, said: “I believe I have got to give a bit back for the astronomical price of two fathers and the two lives which were lost. It is the least I could do.”

Since the accident, Mr Sumner has worked with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service as well as a number of schools and charities to tell his story to help deter others from getting behind the wheel after drinking.

He said: “People need to think and take into account that this could well be the end of their life if they drink and drive.”

Greg Sumner and his son Alfie, aged five, after the accident.Greg Sumner and his son Alfie, aged five, after the accident.

Mr Sumner has had a huge impact on some peoples’ lives already and has received a great deal of positive feedback from his talks.

He added: “It is awful but then it has made me a better person and every day I am focusing on being a better father to my son.

“I regret the incident and for putting my family through it but I do not regret the person it has made me.”

He said he will spend the rest of his life doing what he can for his son and provide him the best possible chance in life.

He added: “When Alfie is older, I will be painting the most horrific picture I can so he can learn from my mistakes.”

More from Weston Mercury

17 minutes ago

An action-packed superhero adventure comes to cinema screens next week, and Mercury readers will win tickets to see it.

Read more

The family of a Worle youngster have praised their son’s bravery after he won a Somerset Award.

Read more
Yesterday, 20:00

A sing-along screening of 2017’s smash hit The Greatest Showman will take place at Bristol Hippodrome.

Read more
Yesterday, 18:00

A stunning display of more than 100,000 twinkling lights in a Burnham cul-de-sac has raised more than £1,000 for local charities, in just its opening week.

Read more
Yesterday, 18:00

Plans to extend Weston’s conservation area – and open it up to receiving hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of grants – has been given the green light.

Read more
Yesterday, 17:06

Father Christmas is checking in on his elves this festive season at his South West Workshop in Cheddar.

Read more
Yesterday, 17:00

With less than two weeks to go until the big day, Westonians will not have to travel far to find festive cheer this weekend.

Read more
Yesterday, 16:13

Organisations in North Somerset have walked away with accolades at a travel awards ceremony.

Read more
Yesterday, 15:35

The eat:Festivals organisers are over the moon to be able to put on their first festive food event after relocating to the Sovereign Centre.

Read more
Yesterday, 15:00

Weston dog walkers started a clean-up group after their park became overrun with dog poo.

Read more

Most Read News

Read Online

Image
Read the Weston Worle and Somerset Mercury e-edition E-edition

Local Weather

Heavy Showers

Heavy Showers

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 5°C

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Competitions
Send Your Letters
Order Photos
Family notices
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Newsletter Sign Up

Weston Mercury twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists