A mother has spoken of the horror of being involved in a crash which killed eight people.

The tragedy happened 19 years ago to the day and for Simone Hilton, the nightmare has never gone away.

She was travelling northbound on the A23 with her husband Darron Bradley and their 11-month-old baby Beau on May 16, 2004, with Darron at the wheel of their Volkswagen. They were heading to the Triangle swimming pool in Burgess Hill for a family day out.

They were at Pyecombe when they were hit by a speeding BMW heading south which had gone out of control, careered over the central reservation and smashed into the northbound lanes. It had been doing up 100mph.

“I remember not hearing my son in the back of the car and wondering if he was even alive,” Simone told The Argus.

The Argus: The scene of the crash. Simone Hilton and her family were travelling in the green VolkswagenThe scene of the crash. Simone Hilton and her family were travelling in the green Volkswagen

Beau survived but he was black and blue and doctors had to take shards of glass out of his eyes. Simone and Darron were both taken to hospital.

Eight people were killed in the crash, including Toby Beasley, 33, and his wife Kate, 30.

They were in a Land Rover Freelander, also driving north, with their friend Steve Mohabir and his two-year-old son Marcus. Little Marcus died at the scene.

Steve Mohabir managed to hold his dying son’s hand as rescue teams battled to free them.

They had all been for a day out in Brighton and were travelling home to Surrey.

The Argus: The scene of the horror crash on the A23The scene of the horror crash on the A23 (Image: PA)

All five of the young people in the crushed BMW were killed. They were siblings Aaron Sharpe, 20, and Katherine Sharpe, 18, from Crawley, Gemma Smoker, 17, from Bewbush, Danielle Billingham, 17, who had just moved to Crawley, and Mitch Treliving, 19, from Faygate, near Horsham.


The horrific crash shook Sussex to its core, hitting headlines both locally and across the country.

Simone, 55, and Darron, 58, live in Patcham. Beau, who was too young to remember the crash, turns 20 in a couple of weeks.

The Argus: Simone and her Labrador OhleeSimone and her Labrador Ohlee (Image: Simone Hilton)

“Obviously it doesn’t go away,” said Simone.  

“The feeling of surviving – it feels like you have cheated death almost. Afterwards you feel it still going to happen because you are still here.

“It stays with you. Every year when it comes round you feel anxious thinking about it. It completely changed the course of our lives.

"I've never been to the Triangle since."

Simone, a support worker at Patcham Infants’ School, has undergone therapy with Darron, a carpenter, but the couple have struggled.

Simone said: “Seeing body parts everywhere – you can’t take that image away. It plays over in your mind.”

The Argus: BBC News coverage of the crash at the timeBBC News coverage of the crash at the time (Image: PA)

Darron has suffered with depression ever since.

“We were on a positive track but being involved in this crash completely took us off that course,” said Simone.

She said the crash still affects her everyday life. “I’m not comfortable going on long distances in the car," she said. “You don’t tend to look out in the opposite direction for something coming flying towards you on the other side of the road but when I drive I always do.”

As they live in Patcham, the couple use the A23 regularly.

“As soon as we get near it this horrible feeling comes over you. I literally pray every time I use that road that I will come home safe,” said Simone.

Today is exactly 19 years since the horror crash.

Simone said: “As time has gone on, we are still here and we are still surviving.

“We remember that and thank each other that we are still here.”