The West

Grieving families message for every driver
Grieving families' message for every driver

These images show the human face of WA's road toll - a tragedy that has claimed the lives of 174 road users so far this year.

Most of the families who spoke to _The West Australian _of their losses are clearly still devastated by the tragedies.

Many cried and most wanted to send a message to the public urging people to take care on the roads.

More wanted to contribute but simply found the experience too painful with Christmas just days away.

Some images will no doubt stand out in the minds of the public.

Such as the image of Gurdeep holding his baby boy a day after his wife Manju Bala was struck and killed by a car in Maylands as the family went for a walk together, and the scene of devastation left after the horrific crash that claimed the lives of Shaun Payne and Tom Dymond on Riverside Drive this week.

Randall Walton's 58-year-old brother Philip was the first person to die in a crash on a WA road this year.

He was riding his new Ducati motorbike in Mundaring on New Year's Day when he fell off his bike.

This week, Mr Walton said his family still struggled with the death and he often found himself with tears streaming down his face.

"(Mum and I) get together and have a tear," Mr Walton said.

"I will be driving the bus having tears streaming down my face. I still get strong feelings that I want to talk to him, and I can't imagine he is not there any more."

Cobie Dikkema's 68-year-old husband Ben died when a black Holden Commodore SS came crashing through the roof of their home in Safety Bay, on February 6.

In March, 18-year-old Melissa Sherrie Hume was jailed for eight months after pleading guilty dangerous driving causing death, unauthorised driving by a learner and driving with a blood-alcohol level exceeding 0.08.

The crash was not the first time the Dikkemas had been involved in a road tragedy involving a drunk driver. In July 2010, Mrs Dikkema's son-in-law David Posthuma was killed after he was struck by a car being driven by a man whose blood-alcohol reading was three times the legal limit in Busselton.

"It took half a year before the house was fixed again . . . now I have time for myself," Mrs Dikkema said. "I miss Ben every day but now it seems it's sinking in."

Mrs Dikkema had a simple message for motorists this Christmas.

"Don't drink and drive and speed kills. It's as simple as that," she said.

Sally Maddison, 23, died on March 23 after a crash at the intersection of Tonkin Highway and Welshpool Road, Wattle Grove.

"Sally's death still seems unreal to me," her mother Penny said.

"How can that glorious smile and sparkling blue eyes just cease to be? "How can that kind loving soul and great sense of humour be lost from this world when empathy and laughter are so needed?

"For her three sisters, her dad and me, our family is now incomplete, forever lopsided.

"I feel as though a large chunk has been carved off my heart and I will never be whole again. Christmas has lost much of its meaning."

Chantelle Hubble started keeping a diary after her brother Kyle died at the age of 22 when he crashed his motorbike on Great Eastern Highway near Kellerberrin on April 16.

It was the 20-year-old's way of trying to work through her pain.

"Eight months ago I got a devastating phone call telling me my brother had crashed his motorbike and he had passed away. Since then I have been going through some much emotional pain and I cry a lot," Ms Hubble wrote.

"I see my parents crying broken hearts. Nothing in the world can make the pain get any better, I will never see my brother walk back through the door again.

"I used to think it would never happen to my family but I have come to realise it only takes two seconds and your family will be heartbroken forever. I love you my big brother and this will be the first Christmas we will have without you and it is so hard."

The same day Mr Hubble died, Yanchep 18-year-old Caelan Owers was killed when the car in which he was a passenger crashed into a parked truck in Yanchep.

His sister Ebony, who gets her driving licence in nine days, said the feeling of her brother no longer being there never went away.

"Christmas is going to be quite hard this year, I've never really woken up without my brother to jump on in the morning and it's going to be very different not having him at the big lunch we do every year at grandma's house," Ms Owers said.

"But we have to make the most of it with the loved ones we do have."

On May 17, Mel Crowe and Deb Newsome lost their only daughter Bronwyn when her car hit a tree, possibly after she swerved to avoid a kangaroo.

They opened a cafe in Narrogin named Bronwyn's Place to help them come to terms with the grief of losing the 18-year-old, but still struggle over the pain of the loss.

The family believes the crash was unavoidable - their daughter was not speeding or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol - but they still want drivers to take care.

"Losing our only child is the hardest thing we have ever done - no alcohol, no drugs, no fatigue and no speeding - it has ruined our life," the family said. "Sure you move on, find something new to focus on, for us a cafe named after her, but nothing is the same."

Martin Beyer, whose 17-year-old son Luke was killed by an allegedly drunk driver, urged motorists to take every possible precaution on the roads.

Luke was driving home from work on May 27 in Ballajura when a car driven by a learner driver ploughed into his vehicle and killed him.

"It is impossible to describe what it is like to go through this and to lose someone so special," he said. "I would hate for any other family to have to feel like this and experience what we have.

"I would just say to drivers out there to please be responsible and safe and whatever you do, don't drink and drive."

Wendy Mears' 24-year-old son Andrew died on November 6 when his motorcycle crashed into the back of a Suzuki four-wheel-drive that had slowed for a booze bus that was stationed about 200m away on Leach Highway.

"This is a warning for all motorists not to speed, particularly approaching the crest of the hill," Ms Mears said.

On September 22, Burns Beach father Jared Drysdale died when his BMW veered off the Mitchell Freeway and crashed into the Erindale Road overpass. His widow Marisa still does not know exactly what happened and the cause of the crash is unknown.

"I just hope everyone will take care these holidays and enjoy the time they have with their families," Mrs Drysdale said.

She will host friends and Jared's family this Christmas and put on a brave face.

"We are going to try and keep it as festive as we can and keep it happy as we can for the kids," she said.

The West Australian

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