'Horrible Week' takes turn for the worse
KAREN EVELEIGH has no anger towards the teenager who was driving the car which crashed and killed her son, Mitchell, and three other boys in October 2006.
The driver, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was the only survivor of the Broken Head crash.
The crash shocked the nation when Mitchell, Corey New, Bryce Wells and Paul Morris died after the car in which they were passengers went off the road as it was heading through Broken Head after leaving Byron Bay and hit a tree.
The young driver was sentenced in Lismore District Court last week over the crash, and will serve at least two years in jail.
But Mrs Eveleigh said the teenager was a 'good kid who just did something foolish and bad'.
“It's been a horrible week,” she said.
“It could have gone so many different ways.
“It's obvious he (the driver) didn't mean to do it. He didn't want to hurt his friends, but it still doesn't change the end result.
“I've lost a very beautiful child and my children have lost a wonderful brother.
“The driver has to do jail time, but ultimately he gets to go back to his family.
“I'm not angry at him. That's too destructive.”
Mrs Eveleigh said the sentencing of the driver, which took three days, was a 'condensed version of the last two-and-a-half years'.
“I'm still in shock over the whole thing,” she said.
“Hearing it all read out, everything we've been through, had a profound impact on me. But it hasn't provided me with any relief.
“It was gut-wrenching. It was a nightmare.
“I think the judge was fair in his ruling. But it's so hard to put a price on a kid's life.”
Although the court case is now over, there are still many unanswered questions for the Eveleigh family.
“I want to stop talking about the accident,” Mrs Eveleigh said.
“But I wouldn't mind if the driver, when he gets out of jail, could answer some of my questions. There is still a jigsaw in my head.
“We've been in limbo, so now it's time for us to start looking ahead and I think that's possible.”
She has started going for walks with her daughter and says it's the 'small things that count'.
“My children always loved being together. Now there is a missing link in our family,” Mrs Eveleigh said.
“We just have to enjoy our memories of Mitchell.”
Maria Bolt, the mother of Paul Morris, who was 16 when he died in the car crash, could not be contacted.
SINCE losing his 16-year-old son Mark New's life has been 'very strange'.
He is glad the court case is over.
“But, more than anything, I just wish that Corey was still here,” Mr New said.
“Since the court decision, there have been so many letters in the paper from people who apparently want to remind us that there were five families involved, not four.
“We know that. Those people shouldn't get involved unless they know what happened.
“They should just stay out of it because there is no way they can understand what we've been through.
“It's been a tough week and I've been angry with the letter-writers, especially those who don't have the guts to put their name to their letter.
“I'm fed up with it. I sit around of an afternoon and I feel like s***.
“I can't stop thinking about everything. The letters have just been a slap in the face.”
Mr New said people didn't realise how bad the car accident was.
“We've all been upset about this for years now. We've kept silent about it.
“There are no winners in this situation, not one. I'm still so mixed up about it.”
FOR Rob Wells the past week has been 'a bit empty'.
But the ordeal is not over for him and his family.
“I've got a funny, hollow feeling now. This is never going to be over for us,” he said.
“The end of the court case is only one chapter in this whole saga.
“It was just 15 seconds of stupidity which ended in catastrophe, but I live this pain every day, unfortunately.
“I'll see one of his friends and wonder why Bryce isn't with them. Or I'll hear a noise and I'll think it's Bryce.
“One of his friends came up to me the other day, hugged me, and told me he'd finally got his learner's licence at 19.
“He was too scared to get his licence any earlier.”
And Mr Wells wants other youths to be stopped from getting their licence before they are ready.
“This campaign is always going to be an uphill battle,” he said.
“But the main thing is that we don't want any other kids or any other parents to have to go through what we've been through.
“Car crashes like this are avoidable.
“The NSW Government just has to take a bit of leadership.
“We've now got an expert in the field who won't even let his own kids get their licence until they're 18.
“Why isn't the Government listening?
“If we can save just one family from something like this, then we've won.
“I will never keep fighting for those changes, because there are no winners in a car crash.”
“I think the judge was fair in his ruling. But it's so hard to put a price on a kid's life”
“It was just 15 seconds of stupidity which ended in catastrophe, but I live this pain every day”