AT this time of the year, newspapers usually put a lot of effort into front pages that reflect the joy of Christmas and hopes that the New Year will bring good fortune for our readers, their friends and families.
Early yesterday The Standard dumped its festive season front page plans. Instead today’s front page carries the tragic story of the death of a young woman on our roads at South Purrumbete.
The news of her death has shocked her community and devastated her family and friends. All of our thoughts are with them.
Once again, our frustrated and traumatised emergency workers find themselves searching in vain for the right words to help stop this carnage.
Warrnambool’s Senior Sergeant Shane Keogh said on Friday: “This hurts everyone.”
Forced then to plead with motorists, he added: “Please slow down. Please drive safely. Let’s get through this period without fear and dread.”
Last year, The Standard ran the hard-hitting #homesafe campaign telling the stories of families riven by tragedy on our roads. Just last week, The Standard published a Special Investigation that revealed the number of drink driving arrests on the region’s roads. While there is no suggestion the death of the young woman on Friday was due to alcohol or speed, it is beyond sad that just days later we are struggling to absorb this most recent and graphic road safety reminder.
What then will be enough to reduce the inevitable and sickening road toll over the holiday break? Will we take heed of increasingly desperate calls from our emergency workers who lie awake at night re-living the scenes of grief and loss that riddle their working lives? Will we heed the tears of families and friends?
Victoria’s road toll for the year to date stands at 246. Think of the 246 families behind that number. The lives of those families changed forever the day there was a knock at the door and a grim-faced emergency worker said: “I am sorry but I have some very bad news to tell you ...”
The rest is a blur, words are said and heard as if from a distance. Their world spins. The tears come straight away or they come later. And they keep coming when least expected, when ordering a coffee, when doing the washing or the shopping …
Such pain cannot be imagined.
So please, please, please be safe. And have a Merry Christmas.