Crash victim families tell of their anger, despair
FATHERS and mothers have revealed the consuming depths of their awful pain and despair after the 2006 deaths of their four sons in a road crash near Broken Head.
Yesterday, before sentencing Judge Colin Charteris in Lismore District Court, their stark victim impact statements and anger revealed the truth of the devastation the crash has wrought.
Their family lives are shattered as they struggle to deal with the loss of their beloved teenage sons - Bryce Wells, Corey New, Mitchell Eveleigh and Paul Morris, who died together in October, 2006.
Judge Charteris heard their statements as part of final submissions this week in the case against the young Lismore driver who has pleaded guilty to the charge of dangerous driving causing the deaths of the four friends.
He also heard from the young man responsible for their pain, of his own suffering and grief at the loss of his mates, of the consequences of his impulsive fatal decision to overtake another mate's car across double lines on a corner, before losing control and crashing into trees.
At one point, Judge Charteris noted during the sombre court hearing the tragedy had no winners.
“I don't think I'll ever stop crying,” said Karen Eveleigh, Mitchell's mother.
“Our family is broken, we can't have family portraits because one is missing,” said Paul's mother, Maria Bolt-King.
“I walk with a heavy hole in my heart.
“When it gets too hard I lay on the body (at his grave). This means I'm only 12 feet away, not a lifetime.”
“To look at tall strong young boys and I think of how Corey would have been,” Ann New said.
“It's wrong. This is so wrong.
“I know Corey is dead. I spent time with him, held his hand and kissed his face.
“I can't understand death.”
Their grief-tinged words were often underlaid by the sounds of sobbing as they bravely tried to express their feelings, yet somehow everyone in the courtroom knew their words would never adequately do justice to the loss they feel.
Robert Wells revealed he was not allowed to see his son Bryce in death, his crash injuries were too shocking, but he learned in graphic detail when he read the death certificate.
“I'm haunted by the vision of Bryce. I'll have to carry it with me for the rest of my life,” Mr Wells said.
Mark New revealed that he (like other parents) had spent a lot of time at the cemetery grieving his son.
“At home Corey's shoes are at the front door, just where they were left,” he said.
The car driver remained stoic during the proceedings, even though so much anger was directed his way from the grief-stricken parents.
However, after taking the witness stand, he revealed the heavy toll of his burden.
Questioned by his defence counsel, the young man facing sentencing, who only had his P-plates three months at the time of the crash, said in hindsight it had been 'a silly piece of driving'.
He said he was 'heartbroken' by the deaths.
“I lost four great mates, especially Corey and Bryce,” he said.
When Judge Charteris asked what he took from the impact statements, he replied: “Just how much heartbreak something like this has caused.”
“I think about it every day,” said.
He said he was aware of the loss suffered by the families and thought about it all the time.
When he became depressed he would isolate himself from others.
It was also revealed the young man had frequently questioned why he had survived the crash and his friends had not.
He told Judge Charteris that he did not become aware his friends were dead until the next morning in hospital when police arrived with his mother. “I broke down in tears,” he said.
The young man had gone to all four funerals, which he found 'very hard'.
He had gone back to school for a while and although there had been no unpleasant incidents he did begin to have some difficulties. He also had problems with a youth who had been a passenger in the other car.
The young man, now a trainee mechanic, has received psychological counselling and has problems trying to sleep.
His sleeplessness was ongoing and he took medication every night to assist.