Death knock: a police officer's hardest job
ANOTHER family has been forced to navigate the overwhelming sense of grief after the loss of two loved ones yesterday.
At approximately 4:24pm Monday afternoon, a man and woman in their 70s, believed to be from the Ashby area, were killed as their blue Hyundai hatchback collided head-on with a Kia on the Pacific Highway, south of Maclean.
Later that night, police made their way to their next of kin to deliver the heartbreaking news that mum and dad were gone.
"The family were understandably devastated they have lost both of their parents," Inspector Jo Reid said. "It's awful at any time but in the lead up to Christmas time it's even worse."
Insp. Reid, who was present when the family received the news, said that while police have a lot of experience with these moments, delivering what's known as a 'death message' is always the hardest part of the job.
"It's one of the most awful things you ever have to do as a police officer," she said. "There is no easy way to tell someone a member of their family has been killed, let alone two.
"We have a probationary constable arriving soon and they will also have to experience this part of the job; it's not something you can teach. Each person has to find their own way to do it."
Insp. Reid said that it was a delicate balancing act when informing families about a loss.
"It's about being honest, but also trying to find that balance between giving them as much information as they need while trying to be compassionate during what is the worst moment of their life,"
"When hearing that you have lost a family member, it takes a while for the grief to set in so it's important not to overload them with information.
"Families also have a lot of questions in the days following, so it's about being as accessible to them as they need."
The names of the two Ashby residents have yet to be released.
"We're allowing the family time to get together and come to terms with what has happened," Ins. Reid said.
In the meantime, police are attempting to contact the families of the Kia driver and their passengers, believed to be Singaporean nationals, who all remain in hospital.
The woman, who is at Gold Coast University Hospital remains in critical condition on life support while the two men are still in a serious but stable condition at Lismore Base Hospital.