The family of Yaicha Thomas – mother Robyn, father Norm and sister Mia – on the steps of the NSW Parliament in Sydney. Yaicha died in a car crash at Tabbimoble in 2006.
The family of Yaicha Thomas – mother Robyn, father Norm and sister Mia – on the steps of the NSW Parliament in Sydney. Yaicha died in a car crash at Tabbimoble in 2006. NSW Business Chamber

Brave mum demands Pacific Highway upgrade

HANDS trembling and fighting back tears, Ewingsdale mum Robyn Thomas yesterday spoke bravely about her late daughter Yaicha, as she stood outside the NSW Parliament and demanded the deadly Pacific Highway be upgraded.

The Thomas family, who lost Yaicha in a crash on the highway at Tabbimoble in April, 2006, were in Sydney with a 1000-signature petition, calling for the upgrade to be fast-tracked.

But as they flew to Sydney the Government announced it would cut $300 million from the project, delaying it at least another two years.

Yaicha’s sister Mia said it was a ‘slap in the face’, but the Thomasfamily is not giving up.

They do not want other families to go through the same horrors they have experienced – and still struggle with every day – after losing Yaicha.

“It is a life sentence,” Mrs Thomas said.

“We go through pain every day, and until the highway is fixed, more and more families will have to go through pain and suffering. The highway is a death trap, every time you drive on it. It’s like playing Russian roulette.”

Mrs Thomas said she believed the highway would be fixed quickly if a family member of the Premier or Roads Minister were to die on it.

“They just don’t seem to understand the pain that our family has been through, that many other families have been through,” she said.

“In the lead-up to this I did some research and surfed the Internet about the number of crashes on the highway, and ‘bang’, there was a picture of my daughter’s crash right in my face.

“It has been a pretty hard road, but I owe it to my daughter, our family and other families to be their voice and hopefully make some changes.”

On March 31, 2006, 24-year-old Yaicha  was travelling from Ewingsdale to see friends in Sydney. The road was wet and Yaicha lost control of the vehicle.

“There was no barrier on the road and she swerved on to the wrong side and had a head-on with a campervan,” Mia told The Northern Star.

“It was devastating. “When we got the phone call from the police Iremember wanting to think they were lying, that she would be okay.”

Yaicha had just finished studying to be a beautician when theaccident occurred.
Mia said handing in the petition and facing the nation’s media outside Parliament was ‘massively
important’.

“All we can do is come here (to Sydney), put faces to the names and hope that it makes a difference,” Mia said.

Ballina MP Don Page and NSW Business Chamber’s Sharon Cadwallader supported the Thomas family in Sydney yesterday, and Mr Page tabled the petition in Parliament.

He said the decision to delay the highway upgrade was scandalous.

“The fact that she is presenting it now justexemplifies the inappropriateness of this decision,” he said.

Mrs Cadwallader said the petition should be a wake-up call to the State and the Commonwealth.
Roads Minister Michael Daley said his deepest sympathy went out to the Thomas family and that the State Government was ‘committed to improving road safety’ along the highway.

“While the State Government’s contribution to the next AusLink program starting in 2009/10 of $500 million is less than we would have liked to provide, the Federal Government’s commitment of $2.45 billion will mean the average annual funding for the highway will increase,” he said.

“While it’s possible two Pacific Highway projects – Tintenbar to Ewingsdale and Banora Point – could be deferred, we will look at the option of delivering them in stages, or securing further funding from the Federal Government.”

Federal Page MPJanelle Saffin said the State Government’s lower contribution meant it would take longer to fix the highway. She said it was ‘clearly not enough’.


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