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Moving on from Road Trauma

Michael O'Connell and Dawn WilliamsCommissioner for Victim’s Rights Michael O’Connell and Moving on from Road Trauma event organizer Dawn Williams

by S Lowe 5 THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow

Moving on from Road Trauma seminar was held in Millicent at the Civic and Arts Centre on the 16th and 17th of November. The event was timed to coincide with the World Remembrance Day for Road Trauma Victims and organised by Dawn Williams from Rendelsham. Approximately 80 people attended, some travelling from Adelaide and interstate.

Guest speakers included representatives from:- SAPOL Accident & Investigation, SA Ambulance Service, Road Trauma Survivor, Road Trauma Support SA, SAPOL Heavy Vehicle Investigation Team, Trucking Industry Representatives, Director of Emergency Department Mt Gambier Hospital, CFS Representative and Chief Magistrate’s Officer and Commissioner for Victim’s Rights Michael O’Connell. Speakers also included survivors of Road Trauma and those affected by the loss of family members through Road Trauma.

Moving on from  Road Trauma was launched at the Millicent & District Community Club Friday night with a meet and greet evening with the remainder of the weekend being held in the Civic and Arts Centre Millicent.

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Dawn Williams was interviewed at 5 THE FM by Rebekah Lowe on the eve of Moving on from Road Trauma.

Organiser Mrs Dawn William told her personal story on 5 THE FM on the eve of the event and at the Road Trauma weekend.

Dawn and her husband  lost both their children tragically to road trauma. Their lives, like so many others, have been changed forever.

“You never get over it you only learn to live with it. ” she said.

Dawn and Arnold Williams lost their daughter to a road accident when she was only 19 years old and they thought nothing like that could ever happen to them again. Dawn said that it was the worst thing that she could ever face but some years later she received a call from her daughter -in-law Heather to say that her son Daryl had been killed in a road accident.

“It was unbelievable.”

She recalls being in Foster’s car park and collapsing, she was rushed to the hospital because she thought she was having a heart attack but when she got to the hospital, they told her that it wasn’t a heart attack – her heart was breaking!

Two weeks later husband Arnold suffered a massive stroke.

” I still can’t understand why I had to lose both of my children.”

“Then to have Arnold in a coma and not know if he would survive was……………too much!”

“When Leanne died, we suffered the grief only a parent suffers when they lose a child but Daryl was also suffering,  because he lost his sister.”

“We have seen grief from many angles, our own as parents, our son’s when he lost his sister, our daughter in law when she lost her husband, and our grandchildren when they lost their father.”

Dawn said that she found the Legal process very difficult. Long trips to Adelaide for court hearings only to find that they had been cancelled at the last minute and things like this were very trying. Arnold could not go because the trip was too much for him and he was still in recovery from the stroke.

“Leanne,  was only 19 years old just starting her life’s journey as a young adult and we miss all the joy and love she brought into our lives.  Daryl is no longer here for his family or for us.  We miss all the special times we shared with him as well as the support and love he gave us.”

Dawn described the loss of their son, “Daryl’s children have to grow up without their Dad who they dearly loved and his wife Heather now lives without her soul mate. She also has the added responsibility of being the sole income earner.  She now has to be Mum and Dad to their children as well as being responsible for all decisions for the family and we lost our remaining child.”

“We spend a lot of time with our grandchildren usually, although they are in Scotland at the moment because Heather received a scholarship to study and we supported her in this move because she is doing it for her family and we skype them often. They will be back soon and what a wonderful experience for them all as a family.”

“We are so lucky to have such a wonderful daughter in law, she is amazing.”

Dawn said she finds the fact that the other driver has not accepted responsibility, very hard. He made a mistake and in a split second he hit Daryl’s car spinning it around into a tree.”

“Losing one child was devastating,  but to lose our only remaining child was too much.”

“We received a life sentence!”

“We lost Leanne 20 years ago and sometime people think we should get over it but every Birthday and Christmas is hard and many days in between are hard. I haven’t heard her voice for 20 years, she hasn’t called me Mum.”

“Our children are now no longer with us to be part of our lives, to talk to, to share and to be able to support them in their daily lives, and we will never be called Mum and Dad again”.

“Grief comes and goes in circles, we all do it differently. There are no answers.”

“Sometimes I just clean out a cupboard, it doesn’t help but I have a clean cupboard at the end of it!”

Jack Annear (Road Trauma Survivor)

Jack Annear addressed the Road Trauma event.

Jack Annear was 18 years old when he was involved in a car accident on November 17th 2007 on the out skirts of Mt Gambier.  The Road Trauma weekend marked the six year anniversary of  his accident.  He had just finished work at 9:30pm and he was driving home with his brother when he was approached by his mates to go for a drive. Jack and his mates went out for a few drinks to celebrate his mates 18th Birthday the following night. Little did they know about the catastrophic event that was about to unfold

Jack remembers very little about that night and the crash, with two weeks lost from his memory while he was in a coma.  His Mum and Dad waited for three or four days after he came out of the coma to tell him  some of his friends had not survived the accident.

“It was devastating,” he said

Jack said he had shocking,  painful injuries; he unable to move his neck and leg. He also had internal injuries,  brain bleed, cerebral bleed, and fractured neck, ruptured inferior vena cava, ruptured liver, and fractured right femur and compound fracture of his tibia & fibula in his right leg.

“It was a long road back to recovery” he said  and he is still recovering from the accident.

Jack message  to all drivers is a vehicle can be a weapon in the wrong hands.

“What happened to me, and not just me, but to others who have spoken here today ………  it should never happen to anyone”.

“Please drive safe”, he said.

Arnold Williams spoke to 5 THE FM on the eve of the Road Trauma event and described the loss of his son and daughter.

2013-11-01 11.37.39Dawn and Arnold Williams

“I can’t help it I have these feelings, I am angry, sad and confused all at once. I woke up from a coma to be told that my son Daryl had been killed. I had known it but I had a stroke 2 weeks after he died and had to be told all over a gain that I had not only lost my daughter Leanne years before but now I had lost my son too.”

“It’s the little things that hurt. We go out and I see others with their children and it is a constant reminder that I don’t have my children any more. It’s not their fault that they have their children and I don’t, but it hurts.”

“I don’t cry, I keep it in side but Dawn cries, maybe that’s better.”

“After Daryl died we had to go to his home and help his wife finalise his business, deliver furniture he had made on order and everyone was amazing and spoke so highly of Daryl. It was good to hear these things. I thought I was ok, but then I got this bad headache 2 weeks later and Dawn called the ambulance. I had a stroke.”

“The stroke changed our lives again, on top of losing both children. I had to learn to walk and talk again and it was hard. It meant I had to leave work earlier than I had planned and it just changed everything.”

Arnold has recovered well but has short term memory loss and some balance issues which  has meant many changes to his and Dawn’s lifestyle.

“I’m glad I’m as good as I am,  I know others have not recovered so well, but its still hard,”  said Arnold.

“I used to go out the spot on the road where Leanne had her accident, it may seem strange to some people but for me it was the last place Leanne was alive and I felt close to her there.  Sometimes I just go to the beach and sit, it is restful. Leanne and I were close, we both loved cars and had similar interests and Daryl was happily married, had begun a successful business and had a great family and we lost all of that.”

I asked Arnold what his role was in the ‘Moving on from Road Trauma’ weekend.

“Supporting Dawn,” he said.

World Memorial Day Service Sunday 17th November in front of the 3 Leaf Memorial Millicent

Dawn spoke with 5 THE FM after the Moving on from Road Trauma weekend.

“It was amazing, better that I could have hoped for. The speakers were amazing and hearing how it affects the personnel from the different organizations every time they deal with a road accident, really brought it out in the open just how many people are affected each time there is an accident.

“I hope that people attending really benefitted,” she said. “People are asking if there will be another one next year,” she said, ” maybe, I’m not sure yet.”

” I want all young people getting their license to come, if we have another one, it may make a difference every time they get behind the wheel of a car.”

I asked Dawn what she personally got from the weekend.

” I will never be called Mum again but I realized that I am still a Mum, I am Leanne and Daryl’s Mum, and that was a wonderful thing for me to get from this weekend.!”

Contributors: Belinda Elton, Dawn and Arnold Williams.

Attention:  The full speech made by the Commissioner for Victims Rights for the Moving on from Road Trauma Weekend follows this article.

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