Heartbreak in the ‘close-knit’ Oldham neighbourhood where a mother was killed seconds from her own home

On a day where many families come together to celebrate Christmas, residents in one Oldham neighbourhood are grieving behind closed doors for a local mum killed just seconds from her own home.

Heather Smedley, 53, died yesterday (December 23) near her home in Royton after colliding with an unmarked police car engaged in a pursuit. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers had been chasing a suspected stolen car prior to crashing with Heather’s car, and a cordon was in place between Birshaw Close and Water Street.

Neighbours in Heyside say this is a ‘close-knit’ community, where the mum-of-three was well known and loved. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News , they told of their grief and ‘shock’ over the sudden death of an innocent mother, whom many of them knew.

READ MORE: Heartbreaking tribute to ‘wonderful’ mum, 53, killed in crash with unmarked police car

“I know the family – it’s just awful,” one neighbour said. “Whoever the police were chasing, they have to realise that their actions have consequences. It was an accident. It’s very sad, very traumatic.

“It’s not a happy time for any of us this year.”

Just doors down, another neighbour told the M.E.N he heard a ‘bang’ and witnessed the scene of the crash just minutes after it had happened. He said he had been left ‘in shock’ by the incident, which left a stretch of Oldham road cordoned off for hours yesterday.

“It was like a bomb had gone off,” he said. “It was literally all over the road. I don’t know how to explain it, it was like the car blew up. I tried not to look, because I knew it would stick with me.

The road was cordoned off following the incident
(Image: MEN)

“The family must be devastated. It’s just the worst feeling. That’s the worst thing you could imagine – somebody you love dies. Anyone could walk out the house now and just never come back. Especially if you drive, it’s dangerous.

“Don’t take things for granted, especially those you love. It’s a pretty close-knit community around here, we’re all just devastated for the family really.”

Another resident who told the M.E.N she knew the family said the incident was “very upsetting”.

Paying tribute to Heather, her family called her a ‘wonderful’ mum who was ‘too good for this world’.

“To the most wonderful mother to Benjamin, Olivia and Jamie, daughter to Hilda and Fred, sister, friend, and wife to Damian. The world was a much better place with you in it,” they said.

“Our mum was the most kind, gentle, beautiful soul inside and out. She faced all of life’s challenges with her beautiful smile, and her bravery and courage never wavered. We could not have asked for a better role model growing up, giving everything, she had to all of those she loved, and always supporting those around her. She was the glue that held our family together. Her resilience and kindness inspired us all to be better.

“She had the greatest sense of humour and contagious laugh that we will miss every single day. You were too good for this world mum, there will be a hole in our hearts forever.”

Residents said they were grieving this Christmas Eve
(Image: MEN)

The crash took place near Heyside Cricket Club on Oldham Road. Posting a tribute to Heather on their Facebook page, the club called her a ‘lovely, kind lady’.

“We were devastated to hear the news earlier today that Heather was the lady involved in the road traffic accident near the cricket club,” they wrote.

“A lovely, kind lady taken way too soon in such tragic circumstances. Our thoughts and prayers are with Damien, Ben, Olivia and Jamie at this incredibly tough time. We are all here for you.

“Sleep tight Heather.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct are now carrying out an investigation into whether “police actions were in accordance with policies and procedures.” Heather’s family have asked for privacy while they grieve for their loss, GMP said.

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Manchester Evening News – Oldham