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'They’ll be loved forever': Mother's heartbreak over death of young sons in Birmingham New Road crash

By Richard Guttridge | Wolverhampton | Crime | Published:

Arathi Nehar has spoken for the first time of her anguish after her sons Sanjay, 10, and 23-month-old Pawanveer, were killed in the crash.

A loving family – Arathi Nehar and her husband Jaswinder Singh with the two boys they adored, Sanjay Singh, 10, and 23-month-old Pawanveer

The heartbroken mother of two boys killed in an horrific crash has spoken of her anguish for the first time.

Arathi Nehar said she hoped “lessons would be learned” from the death of Sanjay, 10, and 23-month-old Pawanveer.

And, as she awaits the outcome of a police investigation, she said her hope is that others will in future be spared the pain experienced by her and her husband Jaswinder Singh.

Mrs Nehar was herself seriously injured in March’s accident on the Birmingham New Road in Wolverhampton in which her sons were killed.

The mother, from Sedgley, was told the news her sons had died as she recovered in her hospital bed.

Sanjay was a pupil at Cotwall End Primary School in Sedgley and was described as kind and caring by his mother, and protective of his younger brother who was only days away from his second birthday when he died.

She recalled how it was “just a normal Thursday night” when she set off with her boys to get fish and chips.

Their BMW was hit as she went to turn right off the busy dual carriageway onto Lawnswood Avenue, Parkfields.

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How a normal night turned to tragedy

It was a normal Thursday night. A mother, just home from work, was taking her boys to get fish and chips – a short journey she had made countless times before.

But in an instant a loving, close-knit family was torn apart.

Sanjay Singh, aged 10, and his 23-month-old brother Pawanveer were killed when the BMW they were travelling in was in collision with a car coming the other way as their mother went to turn off the Birmingham New Road in Wolverhampton.

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From that moment Arathi Nehar’s life changed for ever.

Proud brother – Sanjay Singh loved to show off Pawanveer to his schoolfriends

She herself suffered serious injuries in the horror crash, breaking her coccyx and fracturing her upper back.

But that paled into insignificance for her given the fact the two things she cherished most in her life, her boys, were gone. Her world came crashing down.

Today she spoke for the first time since that tragic night.

Mrs Nehar, 43, from Sedgley, is still on leave from her job as a services administrator for a care company.

She says she has been existing day to day since tragedy struck in March.

She said: "You don’t actually believe it, even up to now, you don’t.

"Although you’ve been given the information, you’ve processed the information but your feelings don’t allow you to accept it. We wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

Sanjay was just over a year away from starting secondary school.

His mother describes him as loving and cheeky. He supported Liverpool and Mrs Nehar remembers with a smile how he liked designer clothes and would steal his father’s aftershave.

School friends released balloons into the sky to remember their classmate Sanjay following the tragedy

He was especially protective of Pawanveer and would tell all his school friends at Cotwall End Primary School in Sedgley about how he adored his younger brother.

“Sanjay had a very kind and caring personality. He was a very popular child, he was very confident. Then I had Pawanveer eight years later and Sanjay took really well to Pav,” Mrs Nehar said.

“He loved being an older brother, he took on the caring role with him so Pav and Sanjay had their own relationship which was beautiful and they had this very strong bond.

“Sanjay and me, we were very close. He wasn’t a typical 10-year-old, he was very charismatic, he did the housework.

“Boys would tend to go a different way but he was domesticated, he loved looking after his own bedroom.

“As he started to get older he was very much aware of designer wear, using his dad’s aftershave and things like that.

“He was very caring to the children at school and a lot of that was told to me after the children did pass.

“He was very protective of Pawanveer and kind of showed him off as well at the same time and spoke highly of his younger brother.

“The four of us had a very strong relationship between us and the boys were very much loved and cared for.”

Dozens of floral tributes and toys were left in memory of the brothers

The day that would change the lives of Mrs Nehar and husband Jaswinder Singh for ever had been unremarkable.

She said: “It was just a normal day. I was at work. I came back from work and we just decided to get some tea for ourselves.

“We were minding our own business, a typical Thursday evening for us, I’ve done it a million times. A normal day, even up to the point where I’m at the traffic lights.

“I remember waiting to turn onto Lawnswood Avenue. The next bit what I remember was seeing the ambulances, the crew and everyone.

“The first thing I remember is the high-visible jackets, I remember them very clearly on the night.”

Her memory of the aftermath remains hazy but she has been told how, despite her traumatic injuries, she screamed out for her boys, desperate to see if they were ok.

Mrs Nehar recalled the heartbreaking moment she was told her sons had died.

“I went in for assessment and my scans, then the doctor came and told me about my injuries and my care that I was going to receive.

“Then shortly after it was the police officer that came to my bed and brought my family with them and that’s when I was informed.

“It’s like your world... stops. Everything stops for not only me but my husband as well.

“You don’t actually believe it, even up to now, you don’t.

“Although you’ve been given the information, you’ve processed the information but your feelings don’t allow you to accept it.”

The mother’s injuries were so serious doctors were surprised she survived. She said: “They were looking at three fatalities. Although I was conscious when they got to me they didn’t really know if I was going to survive.”

Asked whether she ever questions why she survived and her sons did not, she replied: “All the time – it’s here at the front of your mind every day.

Just one of the dozens of heartbreaking tributes

“You go to bed, it’s there and I think it will be for the rest of my life.

“You’re positive for a couple of days then something sets you right back.

“I’ve got to work at getting myself back to how I was, the woman before the accident, still I can’t say how or when.”

A thorough investigation has been carried out since the boys’ death and is still continuing.

Six people have been arrested, two on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, and released under investigation.

Two cars coming in the other direction, an Audi, which was in collision with the family, and a Bentley, have been the focus of the investigation.

Arathi’s cousin Rikki Nehar, 47, said: “There’s nothing we can do that is going to change what’s happened but lessons needs to be learned. These accidents are continuing to happen. That’s the main objective now, to learn lessons from this.”

Mrs Nehar says she understands the police investigation will take time but hopes the accident that led to the deaths of Sanjay and Pawanveer will lead to a court case in which the facts can be examined and revealed.

She said: “It makes me physically sick. It just makes me feel nervous, I’ve lost confidence.

“I’ve not given the drivers of the other cars any time.

“I’m going to let the police do their work and I’m not giving them any thought.

“I’ve not wanted to go out. I’ve had a lot of support from my direct family and without them I don’t know if I would be here today.”

Many well-wishers visited the scene to pay their respects

And it is support from the community that allowed some brightness in during the family’s darkest hour.

The tragedy struck home to people who use the Birmingham New Road every day. The route is both in the middle of a residential area but also known to tens of thousands of motorists who use it every day to travel between Wolverhampton and Dudley.

Many who have never met the victims left flowers at the scene.

The messages expressed sympathy for a tragedy that, in a moment, tore apart the lives of a very normal and loving family.

Flowers, cards, balloons and other tributes lined the road where the boys were killed following the crash.

Hundreds turned out for their funerals, while a memorial garden has been opened at Cotwall End Primary School in the boys’ honour.

Mrs Nehar said she had been lifted by that support and sustained by it ever since.

The crash happened at the junction of Lawnswood Avenue and Birmingham New Road

She said: “The amount of cards, flowers that were coming into the house. For Pawanveer’s birthday on March 23 that was the first time I went out and visited the scene.

“Although it was traumatic when I saw the messages from the children, families, the community it almost lifted me.

“I was glad I was there. It was Pawanveer’s birthday and there was no way I was not going to return on that day.

“When I saw the messages about Sanjay I felt positive about how other people saw him. Your own children are always special to you. The children who hadn’t even met Pawanveer knew about him because that’s how much Sanjay talked about him.

“Pawanveer was just adorable. People saw him once and remembered him, he was just an adorable baby.

“Sanjay taught him everything, the PlayStation and the floss. Sanjay thought we was the best flosser that was ever born.

“They’re both beautiful boys.

“I was lucky to have the 10 years with Sanjay, the 23 months with Pawanveer.

“They’ll always be missed and they’ll be loved forever.

“Nothing’s ever going to be the same for us again.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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