The fiancé of a teenager who died after being accidentally knocked into the road in front of an oncoming van has urged ‘keyboard warriors’ to ‘think before they type’ after seeing offensive messages about the tragedy online.
Talented linguist Grace Dyson, 18, was walking in the rain with partner Jason Booth when the tip of his umbrella got caught in a crevice in the wall as he let it down. She was knocked into the road in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, and hit by a van.
Mr Booth has now posted an online video, which has been seen more than 30,000 times, imploring “heartless” social media users to be more sensitive and “imagine yourself in the life of the people you are commenting about”.
Some posts on social media suggested the circumstances of the tragedy last August were “too coincidental” and that Mr Booth, from Holmfirth, was not being a gentleman as he was walking closer to the wall than his partner.
In his video, which has piano music played by Miss Dyson in the background and features pictures of the couple together, he wrote: “After reading these, I cried. I was shaking with anger.
“What right have they got to do that? If their comments were to drive someone over the edge, would they care? If their comments were one day made towards themselves or their loved ones, would they care?
The chances of this occurring are unbelievable.Detective Sergeant Noel Lowden
“To you, it was just a story. To you, Grace was just a character in that story. But this isn’t fictional. It’s not a joke. It’s a real life tragedy.
“Grace wasn’t a character, Grace was a gift to this world. In face, that music you’re listening to, that’s Grace, a gift.”
The inquest into Grace’s death heard the apprentice administrator was knocked by the violent jerk caused by the umbrella opening and stumbled into the road. She fell into oncoming traffic at the same second her uncle Ivan Beaumont was passing in his van.
Recording a road traffic accident verdict, Assistant Coroner Mary Burke said: “No one could have anticipated that this was going to happen. No one could have changed the pattern of events events.
“It happened in fractions of a second. There was no way Jason would have predicted what was going to happen. I offer my deepest condolences to you.”
Detective Sergeant Noel Lowden from West Yorkshire Police told the court: “The chances of this occurring are unbelievable.”
In the video Mr Booth says he wants to remind people about “respect and common sense” when making comments online.
Then, speaking directly to those who made the comments, he says: “I have the strength to look past your comments, but what if someone else one day doesn’t? What if your comments were to strip people of that one bit of hope they were desperately clinging on to?
“Take an extra second to think before you start typing away on your keyboard. Imagine yourself with the life of the people you are commenting about. THINK before you type, it’s really not that bloody hard. Is it?”
“This is our life, not your story. This is our love, not your laugh. This is our reality, not your entertainment. Grace spent every day of her life caring, respecting and loving the people around her. Yet you can joke about her death?
“I ask one thing of you - to follow just slightly in Grace’s footsteps by having some respect and care for other people.
“You are not invincible. Your loved ones are not invincible. A tragic event could change the life of any of you. Would you want your pain to be boosted by things you read?”
Describing the incident, Mr Booth said: “In a split second tragedy, the life I had chosen was taken from me, right in front of my eyes.
“My umbrella got caught on the wall. It sent me falling into my fiancée. My fiancée fell into the path of an oncoming vehicle. An accident. A tragedy. Nobody to blame.
“My beautiful fiancée. A cherished daughter and sister. And now, another bright star in the sky.”
He later added in a message on Facebook: “Without the amazing support group I have, consisting of incredible friends and family, I may not have been able to look past these disgusting comments. Not everyone has the support group I have around me.
“Some people could lose the only person they have, yet there are people out there who would even think about posting disrespectful comments about their loss, taking away that pinch of life they’re holding on to”.
Mr Booth, a chemistry student at the University of Huddersfield, added: “There seems to have been a fairly large loss of respect.
“People making a joke about the accident. People suggesting that it was too much of a coincidence and that there must have been foul play involved - yeah, because I didn’t already blame myself enough for it already without reading heartless comments.”
“I created this video in anger at the fact somebody could even think of posting a comment suggesting that I could have possibly murdered the lady of my dreams, despite months of police investigations proving it was an accident.”
He added later: “The video has now been seen over 30,000 times! The amount of messages I have received from people telling me how they were also on the receiving end of disgusting comments from trolls after losing a loved one just shows why this message needs to get out there.
“We need to stand up against people that feel they can try and pull vulnerable people down with their sickening words.
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the response so far, and just want to thank you all so much for the help you have given me to push this message out there to be seen by those that need to.”