Injured family members, who were involved in a catastrophic five-car pile-up that killed their father and sister, have emotionally carried their coffins after a heart-breaking funeral service.
David Drozd and his 11-year-old daughter Lydia were driving with their family from their Blue Mountains home to Dubbo when disaster struck.
The pair were remembered at a moving ceremony in Sydney on Friday where Mr Drozd’s children ended the tearful service by carrying their coffins from the venue, placing them in the Hearse that would take them to their final resting place.
Lydia’s sisters Miriam, Elizabeth, Rebekha and Naomi gathered around her white coffin, which was covered in a bouquet featuring sunflowers, pushing it from the venue.
Her brothers Tim, Andrew, and Joseph were among the men following behind, carrying their father’s oak coffin through the church.
Meanwhile Mr Drozd’s wife Nicole followed the coffins, pushing the pair’s youngest child who injured both legs in the horror crash.
Police have said an Isuzu D-Max towing a motorcycle trailer was travelling east when it collided with a Toyota HiLux heading in the opposite direction near Lithgow on December 29.
The Toyota then collided with a third car, while the Isuzu smashed into the Drozd’s Kia head on, killing father-of-nine Mr Drozd and another father, Jason McMahon.
Lydia died a week later in hospital despite doctors efforts to save her. She was two months away from her 12th birthday.
The family were on their way to visit the eldest Drozd daughter in Dubbo for a gender reveal party.
The baby was to be Mr Drozd’s first grandchild.
The surviving Drozd siblings, one in a sling due to her injuries from the accident, were brought to tears while speaking about their father and sister at the moving service.
Several of the surviving Drozd siblings were brought to tears while speaking about their father at the moving service.
Mr Drozd’s eldest daughter Miriam fought through tears while speaking about her father, who she described as the “best dad”.
“He was such a devoted father he loved his wife and children to the utmost, he wasn’t afraid to show it to you...such an attentive and emotional man ” she said.
“The best dad I could have ever asked for. I remember growing up he would it was cry at thought of me getting married and moving out of home.
“He would have been the best grandparent, he’s always the person I was most excited to share the news with, and most looking forward to have meet our baby.”
One of the younger siblings, who has her arm in a sling as a result of the crash, needed the support of her mother Nicole to make it through her speech.
“I’m so thankful God allowed me to have a dad like my dad – although it’s hard to understand why God took the lives of my dad and Lydia, I know that God’s way is perfect,” she said.
Mr Drozd’s children repeatedly described him as “loving” and someone they lived up to.
“Dad was always somebody I loved and looked up to, learnt from, shared memories with, listened to, talked to day in and day out. Dad meant so much to me, in so many different ways dad had much love for us as a family and I believe it extended further to friends and colleagues as well,” eldest son Tim said.
The family then paid tribute to their younger sister, who was described as “humble and kind”.
“She loved to dance, sing, crack jokes. It was so sweet to see her friendships blossom and hear how excited she was to give gifts, whether it was toys, bracelets, or handwritten notes to her closest friends,” Miriam said.
“I know Lydia can run and jump and dance in heaven and I know I’m sure she would enjoy partaking in banquets and we have a great hope and are surrounded with peace that she is with both her earthly father and heavenly father now.”
“I only wish I could have seen her grow up into the wonderful young woman she was becoming. She should have turned 12 in March and was so excited to be an auntie,” she continued.
“Words cannot describe a much gentle, quiet spirit, her soft smile or occasional craziness or compassion for others,” her brother Joeseph said.
Lydia was also described as a “mini dad”, taking after her father David.
“She was more of the quiet I’m sure, she was like the peacemaker in the family. She could be a bit crazy and when she was it was a bit hectic,” one of her older sister said, chuckling as she remembered her sister.
“I’m thankful God blessed me with a sister like Lydia. Saying goodbye to Lydia was hard but it’s a part of God’s plan,” she continued through tears
Lydia’s friend Georgia also spoke at the service, sharing memories between the pair.
“I remember one day at church she asked me if I would be her best friend, and I said yes,” she told the crowd.
“She was the best friend you could ever want, she always cared for others...Lydia was always filled with joy, I loved trying to make her laugh because she made me laugh so much.
“...God did give me a sister, Lydia I love you so much, so much that not even death could make me stop loving you.”
The family’s former pastor Wayne Rabot began the touching service, which was described as a “celebration service”.
“We’re celebrating two lives well lived and it’s also a celebration service because the Lord of Glory has done and is doing great things through this great loss,” he said.
Fifteen people were injured in the pile-up, including four of Lydia’s sisters who were rushed to hospital in serious conditions.
Mr Drozd was a deeply religious man who was a lay preacher, his family released a statement describing him as a “devoted Christian and leader in his church, and a loving and devoted father.
He was also the director of a traffic consultancy firm and had worked as an expert for Penrith and Blacktown city councils.
Deeply involved in the community, tributes poured in for the pair.
“I have had the privilege of spending some time with this beautiful family in the midst of their heart-breaking loss,” Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said.
“David did incredible work for our community, making our roads safer for others. His service will endure.
“The loss of a child is a pain that is impossible for me to fathom. Coupled with the loss of a husband and father, the impact is immense.”
A GoFundMe campaign set up to support Mr Drozd’s wife Nicole and her eight children has raised nearly $100,000.