Cool Heads guest speaker Damien ‘‘Will’’ Willoughby could not hold back the tears as he recounted the horror of losing his sister and brother-in-law to a car accident when he was only 15.
‘‘I don’t want anyone to go through what my family has gone through, no-one deserves that,’’ he said.
Mr Willoughby said his sister Sue was picking up a new car from her father with his other sister’s husband Michael Wilson.
‘‘They popped in to the family home in Murrabit, south of Elmore, to say hi before travelling back to Melbourne,’’ he said.
The family received calls from relatives who were asking ‘‘Where are Sue and Michael? They should be home by now.’’
‘‘There wasn’t any panic setting in yet, until we saw a news bulletin on TV when we were watching Hey Hey It’s Saturday,’’ Mr Willoughby said.
‘‘The report featured a car crash and we recognised the number plates.
‘‘I remember saying to myself, ‘They will be fine, they will be fine’, then not long after we heard a knock on the door.
‘‘I have the utmost respect for police officers because of having to deliver that kind of news and seeing the way we were that night.’’
Mr Willoughby said his sister was not speeding or drinking; she had swerved to avoid a tree branch that fell during a passing storm and was then hit by a minivan — and it has caused a ripple in his family ever since.
‘‘This was an accident, but the minute you get high or pissed or speed it’s taking you closer to a horrible reality, it’s Russian roulette,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t have time for people who think a vehicle is a toy.
‘‘My sons will never know their aunty and my niece has grown up as an only child with a widowed parent.’’
Mr Willoughby said the victims of road trauma may not wear it on their sleeves, but they carried it forever.
‘‘I don’t want to be defined by it, but I want to do whatever I can so no-one else has to go through it,’’ he said.