Parents' pain as daughter Jennie Stone dies in car crash months after son Gregg was killed in Afghanistan
A week ago, the Stone family – still dealing with the death of Gregg in Afghanistan – suffered another tragedy when his sister was killed in a car crash. They speak to Chief Reporter Kevin Shoesmith
HE BURST through the police cordon, aware of the officers chasing him, but his mind only on reaching the wreckage.
“I started running as fast as I could,” says Bob Stone, for a moment back on the A165 Hull to Bridlington road, scene of the crash. “I am screaming to the police, ‘Is it a blue Peugeot?’ Over and over I am screaming.
“Then I see it.”
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It is a vision his mind’s eye has on loop – a nightmare now etched deep.
“The paramedics took me to one side and explained to me Jennie had been killed,” he says.
“I doubled over there and then, on that road. I screamed, ‘No – not again, not again’.
“And then I thought about Angie – how was I going to tell her we had lost our beautiful Jennie too?
“It’s just too much.”
Bob and Angie’s son, Gregg, 20, was shot dead by the Taliban in Afghanistan on June 3 last year while serving his first tour of duty with 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment.
Last Monday, shortly after 9am, tragedy stuck again.
This time, it was a few miles from their doorstep.
Jennie, 28, known by her parents as Jennie Wren, was on her way home after dropping off her son, Charlie, nine, at Skipsea Primary School.
Her car hit another vehicle, before hitting a tree.
Bob had raced to the scene, close to the village of Fraisthorpe, after receiving a call from Jennie’s partner, Dave Parker.
Bob looks up from the spot on the floor he has been staring at for the past 30 seconds.
His wife’s eyes meet his.
No words are spoken.
The couple sit, surrounded by familiar things, lost in their own living room, where in a corner they have created a shrine to their son.
Photographs of a treasured daughter will soon be joining those of Gregg, says Angie, the strain of the past eight months showing on her face.
“The pain physically hurts,” she says.
Next to Bob sits Kallum, 19, Gregg and Jennie’s brother who earlier this month joined the Army.
Charlie is snuggled under his uncle’s protective arms, sliding down the cushion of the sofa.
He grins, looking bewildered.
“She is the best, most beautiful mummy in the world,” he says, the poignancy of the present tense not lost on anyone.
“Sometimes you look at him and it’s as though he doesn’t understand,” says Angie after Charlie has skipped out of his grandparents’ home in Atwick, near Hornsea, to play with a friend.
Kallum says: “But it’s as it should be, mum.
“It’s all about protecting Charlie and making sure he achieves everything he wants in life, as his mum would have wanted, because as a family, we know how short life can be.”
Dave says: “It’s nice to see him playing there – it keeps us all distracted.”
But Bob, referring to the funeral, says: “Friday will make it real for him. Until now it’s not really happened.
“We’re all finding it hard to accept what’s happened – let alone someone of his age.
Angie speaks of her “stunning” daughter, a final-year student at the University of Lincoln’s Hull campus, where she was training to become a social worker.
“Jennie was stunning, but she never thought she was,” says Angie. “She never, ever realised how beautiful she was.”
Less than 24 hours before the crash, Jennie, Charlie and Dave had moved into their new home in Bridlington.
“Every morning, Jennie woke up smiling,” says Dave. “Charlie came first and Jennie loved him to bits – and told him every single day.
“If she got in after Charlie had gone to bed, she would wake him up and give him a kiss goodnight.
“She’d say to me, ‘He won’t remember a thing in the morning’– and she was right.”
For the first time in the interview, the family smile. It is the catalyst for Jennie’s sister, Rosie-Ann, 20, and Graeme, 30, to recall happier times.
For a few moments, banter flies across the room.
“We called her ‘Cadger’ because she always used to borrow things,” says Rosie-Ann.
“One time she came round and said, ‘I’m making a lasagne for the boys, can I cadge some sheets of pasta?’
“Then it was, ‘Can I have some mince too, please?’ Before any of us knew it, she’d have the lot.”
Rosie-Ann says the family can see glimmers of Jennie in Charlie.
“He imitates his mum a lot,” she says. “The other day someone asked Charlie if he was okay and he turned round and said, ‘Always’.
“It was what his mum used to say.”
Graeme, the quietest of the siblings, sums her up: “She was infectious.”
He was the sibling closest to Jennie, according to the close family. Graeme, known by his sister as “G”, says: “She had more balls than most blokes I know. She was so full of life.”
But then reality dawns.
Angie rises to her feet to embrace Jennie’s partner, the man who brought happiness into her daughter’s life.
She says: “I’m so sorry, Dave.
“This man has been a rock to this family after Gregg and the one time he needs me, I can’t be there for him.”
Both take off their glasses to wipe away tears.
Talk turns to the funeral, which will be held at St Nicholas Church in Hornsea, where Gregg’s took place.
“No one wants Friday to come,” says Bob. “Gregg had the best and Jennie will have the best, because they were the best,” says Bob.
Graeme adds: “Well put.”
Angie, through tears, says: “But we know Jennie won’t be at the church.
“She’ll be at Hornsea Golf Club at her wake – wearing the tallest high heels sipping the biggest glass of white wine.”