IT was meant to be the most special evening of his life. But on January 13, 2019, Charlie Bianco-Ashley, 28, didn’t end up proposing to his childhood sweetheart Nicole Newman, 23.
Instead, he sat with her as she took her last breath after being struck by a car.
Then, a week later, Charlie turned off the machine that was keeping the couple’s nine-month-old son Luciano alive following critical injuries he had suffered in the same crash.
Little more than a year later Charlie nearly died in a motorcycle accident. In a coma for months, he survived but was paralysed from the waist down.
‘I believe Nicole and Luciano saved me from dying,’ he says.
Now Charlie, from Penge, south east London, tells his heart-breaking story for the first time.
Walking hand-in-hand with my girlfriend Nicole while pushing our nine-month-old baby Luciano – who we called Luci, my heart raced with excitement.
It was the night I was going to propose to her.
Back home at the flat, we shared in Penge, south east London, I had a diamond and white gold ring waiting.
‘I’ve got a surprise for you at home,’ I said. ‘What is it?’ she begged for information which I teasingly refused to reveal.
But I think she knew… she had picked out the ring herself.
We were dropping Luci at her mum’s house in nearby Anerley and then had a much-needed evening to ourselves planned. We’d eat some food, I’d get down on one knee.
Life was wonderful.
Then, just minutes from our home as we crossed a busy road, a car slammed into Nicole and Luci.
His pram was flung into the air while she was slammed into the road.
I cannot remember much about the exact incident or the immediate aftermath although onlookers said I screamed ‘my girlfriend's dead’ and ‘I need my baby’.
I do know I ran between them both. Nicole was closest but Luci was so badly injured too. The two people I loved most in the world.
Reports afterwards said she screamed ‘where’s my baby?’ but that wasn’t true – she couldn’t talk as she lay on the road.
I watched her take her last breath while an ambulance rushed Luci to Kings College Hospital in Denmark Hill, south west London.
Paramedics told me he was really ill, that he was unlikely to survive.
Needing to be resuscitated, he underwent spinal surgery but it didn’t help.
A week later I turned off the machine that was keeping him alive. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do but doctors said he had no chance of survival, his injuries were too severe.
Nicole and Luci were cremated together at a service in Beckenham Cemetery, south east London – together forever.
I don’t recall much of the aftermath of the crash which took place on January 13, 2019, but I returned often to where it happened in Croydon Road to just sit and talk to them.
What I do remember is brain-rotting.
I miss them both so much. Luci was the cleverest, funniest little boy and Nicole was wonderful.
I met her when she was 13 and I was 15 and it was, despite our young ages, love at first sight.
We lived in the same area and would play outside. As we got older we would sit in each others’ rooms and chill.
She was perfect and stunning.
I said we would have a baby and I was right. It was me and her against the world.
In December 2018 we moved in together but sadly were only together for one month, her still on maternity leave and me working as an electrician, before she died.
Little Luci, weighing six-and-a-half pounds, arrived at the same hospital where he died on April 23, 2018.
We cared jointly for our boy, reading goodnight stories to him and encouraging him to walk.
A week later I turned off the machine that was keeping him alive. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
She was a brilliant mum. Luci was planned and while she was a bit nervous, like many first time mums, I was simply over the moon and ready to be a dad.
She had a great pregnancy and good labour (although I admit I fell asleep during it) and he arrived healthily.
I was so proud of her.
Being a dad made me feel special. We really got stuck in, jointly doing night feeds and nappies.
He was so advanced, crawling up onto cupboards. I’m convinced he would have walked before he was one.
He was the funniest little kid. He loved his mum and spent happy hours walking in Crystal Palace Park and looking at the ducks.
However, he didn’t get to talk. I never heard him say ‘Daddy’ which I would have loved.
Sadly, in May this year tragedy struck again when I suffered severe injuries in a motorcycle crash in Bromley, south east London.
I had bought a bike but my new partner wasn’t keen on it so I had decided to sell it when I took it out for one last spin and crashed.
I cannot remember any details of the accident. It was only when I woke in the Princess Royal Hospital in Bromley three months later medics told me what had happened – that I’d been airlifted to the same hospital where Luci had died before being transferred.
‘You’ve been in a serious crash,’ I was told before doctors adding that I had been in an induced coma having suffered two strokes.
I was paralysed from the waist down, had punctured both my lungs and broken my neck and shoulders.
I believe it was Luci and Nicole who stopped me from dying. They pushed me back down to earth and told me to carry on.
Seven months after the crash I am still in hospital although I am allowed out.
In October at the Old Bailey Tyson Haynes, 53, from Brockley, south east London, admitted killing Nicole and Luci after pleading to two counts of causing death by careless driving.
He denied alternative charges of causing the deaths by dangerous driving and this was accepted by the prosecution. He’s due to be sentenced in the New Year.
The court was told he was speeding on a 30mph road when the crash happened.
He will have to live with what happened and I can’t forgive him. I hate him.
He took away the woman I wanted to marry and my son.
It is incredibly difficult and I miss them all the time – but they're still here, with me. I’ve kept some of Luci’s possessions – his pyjamas and baby drum set – and that helps.
I’m resilient and strong-minded. I have to carry on for the people that can’t carry on. I won’t give up.
In more news…I’m 21 and a mum-of-three & I’m sick of people saying I have it easy because I ‘only’ work two hours a day
Plus one mum feels bored around her nine-year-old daughter and believes she is a rubbish mum.
Also…I had a row with my mother in law while giving birth, she didn’t like the baby name we chose & kept making suggestions
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