Hornchurch dad shakes hands with man who tried to save his sons 20 years ago - thanks to Recorder

This is the moment James Jones finally got to shake hands with the man who tried to rescue his sons.

For Hornchurch man Mr Jones, now 75, it was a case of “better late than never”.

The Albany Road householder was by his own admission “in shock” after his sons Mark, 32, and Matthew, 27, died in a horrific car crash in October 1992 – and he didn’t see the Recorder’s front page a week later.

But when he read our “This week in history” column recently he discovered four men had offered their assistance that freezing night in Stubbers Lane.

So last week he appealed for the men to come forward so he could say what he didn’t 20 years ago: “Thanks very much for what you tried to do.”

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Jeff Nicholls, 62, was at home on Bramble Farm, Bramble Lane, that night in 1992 when a couple banged at his door saying there’d been a bad accident.

“My son Gerrard and I went down,” he recalled.

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“I’d just had a phone put in my van – quite a new thing in those days – and that’s where I called the ambulance. They had crashed into a tree down Stubbers Lane and veered off the road.

“We took a sleeping bag down and we tried to get the car open. I think the fire brigade came and cut them out in the end.

“We did the best we could. They were both in the front seats and we couldn’t get them out because they were in an awkward position.

“My son was in the ditch trying to get the car open while I went back to the van to phone the ambulance. There was no conversation or anything between the two people because they weren’t conscious.”

When Mr Nicholls saw the appeal in last week’s Recorder, he got in touch – and we were able to set up a meeting between the two fathers.

For Mr Jones, it was a chance to get some closure about what had happened that night.

“It’s just nice to know that he and his son had done all they could,” he said. “It was nice to know someone had done their utmost.

“I’m glad to have met him and I’m sure we’ll meet up again.”

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