ONE man’s journey through the wreckage of road trauma brought a group of high school students to tears yesterday.
Candidly sharing his painful experiences, John Maher told how he had lost his beloved daughter Carmen 16 years ago in a single-car crash near Bendigo.
Mr Maher asked the Warrnambool College students to put their own parents in his position.
“On Saturday the 18th of November, Carmen, my baby girl, was killed in a car crash. I am standing here and I’m telling you guys, don’t for one second think that this can’t happen to you. Because I’m telling you it can,” Mr Maher said.
The year 11 students were captivated by the presentation, which brought some of them to tears. Mr Maher said no parent should ever have to put a death date next to their child’s birth date on a headstone or choose a coffin for them.
“This is incredible. You will absolutely destroy your family, you will destroy your friends. I’ll tell you they’ll never get over it,” he said.
Carmen, then 18, had her licence for three months and fell asleep behind the wheel, travelling at 100 kilometres an hour.
Mr Maher, of Ballarat, said fatigue killed one-third of all of the people who die on our roads.
“Carmen, through me, is reaching out to you and saying to you — you only have one life,” he said.
“You people have to change what’s happening on our roads and you must look after your life. This absolutely changed our lives,” he said.
The students saw images of the wrecked vehicle and Carmen’s sisters and cousins carrying her coffin at her funeral.
Recent family photos painted a picture of the families’ pain and how life goes on, but without Carmen in it.
Warrnambool College student Hamish Ander, 17, said it was an emotional and heavy presentation that made him think differently about driving once he obtains his learner’s permit.
Learner driver Emma Dodwell, 17, said after hearing the moving presentation she would never get behind the wheel if she was tired.
Mr Maher was the face of Talk the Toll Down, a TAC and media campaign.
He will speak at Portland Secondary College today.