THE devastated parents of a teenager who died after crashing his car while twice the drink drive limit have urged others not to repeat his 'grave mistake'.
Matthew Alston, 18, from Simonstone, went to bed at 5.30am after a party, but couldn’t sleep and decided to go for a drive just 90 minutes later.
Shortly after his black Vauxhall Corsa was seen speeding in Whalley Road, Read, before losing control and smashing into a Seat Toledo travelling in the opposite direction.
Matthew was killed instantly. Two off-duty police officers in the Seat Toledo, Deborah Butterworth and Neil Munro, escaped with minor injuries.
Speaking after an inquest yesterday, Matthew’s parents Janet and Andrew said young drivers needed to be aware of the dangers of alcohol.
And they urged people not to judge Matthew on the ‘last few hours of his life’, but remember a popular, fantastic person, who was both academically and athletically talented.
They said Matthew would have been the first to ‘stand up’ and apologise for the ‘hurt and trauma’ he had caused.
Mr Alston, 44, said: "Tragically Matthew made a grave mistake following a night out with friends in Burnley.
"This sequence of events was totally out of the ordinary.
"Those who have never met Matthew will form opinions based on the last few hours of his life.
"However those of us who had the privilege of knowing and loving him knew what a fantastic, young person he was who lived his life to the full, had a great work ethic was caring and thoughtful with a wicked sense of humour.
"He made a positive difference to many, and would have continued to do so if he was with us today. Sadly he has gone too soon."
Matthew's parents backed the Lancashire Telegraph Wasted Lives campaign, which has fought to stop the carnage of young people on our roads.
Mr Alston said: "As parents we have experienced a heartbreaking loss that we do not want any other family to go through.
"If Matthew was here today he would stand up and apologise to everyone for the hurt and trauma he had caused, particularly to the occupants of the other car, the emergency services, family and friends, accepted the consequences and learnt from it never to repeat the actions again.
"So on his behalf we are aiming to work in partnership with the police and local road safety campaigns such as ‘Wasted Lives’ in getting the message across to all young drivers the need to be aware of the effects of alcohol on driving particular the morning after and its devastating effects on lives.
"In the words of one of Matthews’s closest friends we have all learnt from the mistake that he has made, and the silence that his death has left has had a greater effect on us all than any words could have had."
On Saturday August 14, Matthew had held a party at the family home in Scott Avenue for around 10 of his friends whilst his parents were away for the weekend, the inquest was told.
He went to bed at around 5.30am but did not manage to sleep.
Giving evidence at the inquest, his friend Emily Scotland said: "Matthew was his usual self – BIG DASH joking, laughing and the centre of attention.
“I am not sure what he was drinking but it was alcoholic."
Matthew left his house just before 7am without telling anyone where he was going.
And at 7.10am, witnesses said the Vauxhall Corsa was ‘speeding’ along Whalley Road when it careered into the centre of the road, spun out of control and smashed into a Seat Toledo travelling in the opposite direction.
Shaun Faraday, a cyclist who witnessed the crash, said: "A car overtook me and then a couple of seconds later I heard a massive bang and there was smoke and bits of cars flying everywhere.
"I went to the black Corsa and saw the driver lying horizontally across the seat. I felt for a pulse but couldn't feel one and then I called the emergency services."
A post mortem examination showed Matthew had taken mephedrone and cannabis and was more than twice the drink drive limit before the crash.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Michael Singleton told the inquest that Matthew he died as a result of multiple injuries.
He said: "Matthew was under the influence of alcohol and recreational drugs and he was driving in the direction of Whalley when he lost control of his vehicle causing it to go onto the opposite side of the road and collide with an oncoming vehicle. He sustained immediate fatal injuries.
"It is a parent’s worst nightmare and I cannot begin to imagine the grief."
Matthew, a keen rugby player who represented the Hyndburn and Ribble Valley Town team had gained 10 GCSEs and four A'levels and was planning to study International Business Studies at Northumbria University.
He also leaves a younger brother, Hayden.