Wife of drink driver’s victim says ‘life has been ripped apart’ in heartbreaking statement

The wife of a woman who was killed by a drink driver has spoken of the ‘void’ left by her loss after the driver was jailed for six years.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 3:05 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd September 2021, 3:28 pm
Stephanie Rivers

Stephanie Rivers (33) was killed when Liam Mansfield caused a head-on collision with her car while he was twice the limit.

Today he was jailed for six years after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.

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In a statement read to the court, Stephanie’s wife, Debbie Rivers - who herself was seriously injured in the crash - said: “I do not want this statement to be full of hate. Hate is a wasteful emotion, and I do not want hate to destroy me more than I am already. Rebuilding your life alone takes so much effort, I do not have room in my life to hate. I do not hate you Liam. I hope you listen to my words and can in some small way understand how you, who was nothing to me, has changed my life more powerfully, completely, and irrevocably than any other person before you and God willing after you.

“I found out while I was in hospital that Steph, my best friend, my wife was gone forever. In that car I really believed she was just taking longer to wake up despite how much and how hard I tried to wake her with what little strength I had. Imagine lying immobile, injured, in pain, confused and then hear those words. Your wife has died, your dog is in the vets for emergency treatment, you yourself nearly died at more than one point that night and after, and now you must wait to see if the baby you both had been longing for was there. It is hard to imagine, even harder still to experience. How do you come to terms with the fact this is now your reality, your life has been stolen from you and what was given back was not what you wanted; having to learn to walk, feed yourself, wash yourself and toilet yourself again?

“You have left me helpless since the day our paths crossed. In my everyday life I, alongside Steph, was always the one helping others, caring professionally for residents who we were both very fond of and supporting our colleagues. Lying in my hospital bed and in my recovery months after, I held the burden of knowing they were alone grieving for Steph, worrying about me with my injuries, having to cope with us no longer being there and I could do nothing to help. Truthfully, they never recovered. Through shear determination I have returned to work after seven months. I have amended duties now; I can no longer perform the physical side of my role due to my arm and leg being held together with rods and bolts. Not to mention the embarrassment of my bowel incontinence and frequent urgency. Having a large part of your bowel removed due to the severity of the injury and internal bleeding has meant I do not have the respite to rely that I will not mess myself publicly.

“Where I was once a confident driver, I now question everything, every move other vehicles make. I am afraid it will happen again. Not an unreasonable fear considering that one night while driving home I found myself upside down struggling to breath, in the dark, cold and wet, my foot by my knee, my leg all floppy, hearing my dog crying and the terrifying silence from my wife despite my best attempts to wake her, the helplessness, not being able to tell the person on the 999 call anything other than crying for their help and telling them I don’t know what happened.

“It does not matter how safe our roads are, how much money is spent and what measures are put into place. No money or measures could compete with your decision. Your choice. Your journey now will be whatever the court decides. My journey is now carrying on, alone, a widow, not yet a mother, making room every day for the pain, uncertainty, fear, and loss.

“I am grateful I did not die. I have another purpose. It is now my duty to keep the memory of my wife alive. To keep our family and friends connected to the love she gave. To keep burning bright the light and love she brought into this World.

“You never had the privilege of meeting Steph. This was your loss. Words truly are not enough to impress on you what a beautiful person Steph was and whatever I say, you will just think me biased, she was after all who I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with. We were inseparable, from the moment I met her I knew our lives paralleled; destined to create lives from our own. Your actions ripped that apart and have left a void so immense and extensive it feels as if the whole world could be sucked into it. Stephanie Rivers was a truly beautiful and generous person who would help any living being in any way she could and wanted nothing in return. Her love was pure and uncomplicated, just being in the same room as her would make you feel safe, happy and at peace. Sometimes it only takes the loss of one life for the World to feel empty and I, along with our family and friends will always be grateful for the difference that one life made.”