THEY should have returned with sore heads, muddy wellies and memories to last a lifetime. Instead two young music fans never came home at all from last year’s Bestival and a third was left with life-changing injuries.
Kerry Ogden, 23, from Maghull and 18-year-old Michael Molloy, of Woolton were killed when the coach carrying them home from the festival on the Isle of Wight crashed on the A3 near Hindhead, Surrey.
The driver Colin Daulby, 63, from Warrington, also died while 23-year-old Zach Washington-Young, from Picton, is now in a wheelchair.
Liverpool DJ Chris McGee was lucky enough to walk away from the crash, which is incredible given that the 28-year-old had broken his back.
“I was last on the bus and ended up falling asleep at the front. I had an empty seat next to me and just put my head down on the driver’s bag and that’s all I really remember,” he recalls.
“When I woke up it had all happened. I don’t remember anything about it. I woke up outside the bus. I had walked off the bus and through the trees and collapsed on the hard shoulder.
“A lady called Janet wrapped me in a blanket and was talking to me and trying to get some sense out of me. I didn’t really know where I was.”
Chris was rushed to hospital with four others and taken to a spinal unit in Tooting, London where doctors told him he had fractured four vertebrae in his thoracic spine.
“Everyone had seen me walking and then the next time they saw me I was all strapped up. People couldn’t believe they had seen me walking – it must just have been adrenaline.
“At the time I think I knew I was okay; even though I knew it was bad I knew that I could feel my fingers and my legs. I was thinking to myself, I’m all right.”
In the days that followed Chris was inundated messages of good will and four days later he travelled back home to Liverpool where, like the rest of the group, he had to come to terms with losing two of his friends.
“I tried not to watch the TV or read newspapers but the news was slowly filtering through. I got on Facebook towards the end of the week and that was when it really started to hit me.
“Kerry and I have known each other a good few years, we have always ended up at the same festivals or the same gigs,” Chris adds.
“My brother Luke is friends with Joe and Liam Molloy and Michael came along with Luke and another mate. Within minutes though we all knew each other.”
Six months on from the crash, this weekend the friends will come together again to honour their lost pals at a benefit Bestival gig at Nation in Liverpool.
The event has been organised by the coach-goers, along with Michael’s brothers and Bestival founder DJ Rob da Bank.
“We’re not affected in the same way as those who were in the crash or lost loved ones but I think the whole Bestival family was in mourning for those who died,” Rob said recently.
“A lot of us were friends, through music and gigs. So Saturday is the best way that they could be remembered through music, through a big gig with some great artists and everyone’s friends,” Chris explains. “We have all chipped in with ideas, artists or bands that should play.”
Among the artists on the line-up are Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds and Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch. There will also be sets from one of Kerry’s favourite bands Is Tropical and guitar duo Hoodie Ledbetter who Michael knew.
Chris himself will be DJing along with Phil Fearon, who was also on the Bestival coach, as will Juice FM DJs Steve Parry and Dave Whelan.
A song which aspiring musician Michael wrote, called Rise And Fall, will also be performed tomorrow night by two of his friends Alex Evans and Katy Alex.
“The money raised will go to the families of Kerry and Michael and also we don’t want to forget Colin the driver,” explains Chris. “But I think a lot of the money is going to go towards Zach. Out of everyone who survived his injuries are the most life changing and we want to make sure he gets the best opportunities and the best chance of being able to improve.
“Saturday will be the first time people’s families have come together too,” Chris adds.
As for Chris himself, he has been back at work since January and seems to be making a good recovery.
Along with some of the other guys he is considering a return to Bestival this year to put some “closure on it”.
He says: “I think this is something that’s always going to be with us as a group, we will always have it as a terrible trauma but we also try to have it as a bond.
“We try to look for positives. I felt really helpless at the time of the accident. Some of the lads on the coach were absolute heroes, they were carrying people off the bus.
“So were the people who helped us like Janet and her friend Troy. A lot of us owe our lives to them, helping people off the coach, at a time when no-one else dared stop. They are spending this weekend with us up in Liverpool, as a massive thank you.
“I just had to sit there because I was injured. I felt as if I couldn’t do anything. I suppose this is why I have tried so hard to push Saturday.
“We want to raise as much as we can but we also want to try to have a laugh and remember our friends.”
There are still tickets available for the Bestival event at Nation tomorrow night. Advance tickets are £15 from www.ticketline.co.uk