Family's brave plea to spare others of their pain
AT THE age of 23, Maclean woman Alissa Marshall had the world at her feet.
Bright, popular and generous to a fault, she was less than a year away from finishing a degree in teaching and had plans to volunteer in Cambodia for 12 months once she graduated.
It took only one moment in May 2012 for all of that to be taken away, when Alissa's car veered into the path of a cement truck on Yamba Rd.
Today, as her parents Tony and Tracy prepare to spend their fifth Christmas without their eldest daughter, they have an important message for anyone getting behind the wheel this holiday season - don't take risks on our roads.
Tony Marshall will never forget the day his daughter died.
It was the day his family was shattered.
"We received a call (from Alissa's friend) to say she'd been in a crash, so I jumped in the ute and drove straight into Yamba," Mr Marshall said.
"I thought this is not going to be too bad, at least she's in a 50km zone. Then I got there ..."
Mr Marshall fought to speak as he explained how it took days for the gravity of what had happened to really sink in.
It was also days after her death that he and his wife learned of the events leading up to the tragic crash, something they have kept close to their chests until now.
"Alissa was texting on the telephone," Mr Marshall said.
"She looked down at a 10-15 degree corner and went onto the wrong side of road. When she looked up she tried to come back into the right lane and the truck went straight through her.
"That's just how simple it was. Alissa was a highly intelligent child, but we all go round and do silly little things like this.
"We might get away with it a thousand times but the one time we don't, the consequences can be severe."
Mr Marshall said that while the pain did subside with time, family holidays like Christmas were the days he found himself thinking about his daughter more than usual.
"It's a different Christmas," he said. "We just have a quiet family day together. Her nephew, whom she adored, is now six and growing every day. He still remembers her."
On those special days, the family also travels to her memorial, a plaque that overlooks back beach at Brooms Head.
"It's where she used to go all the time for a swim, or to muck around. That was her sacred spot," Mr Marshall said. "We usually head out there at sometime or another.
"It's just immensely painful and unfortunately no one else ever knows what that pain is unless you've been there."
It is a pain Mr Marshall doesn't want anyone else to have to endure, which is why he has urged local motorists to take care on the road this Christmas, and not get distracted by anything.
"Alissa was all about education, and our job as parents is to educate our children," he said.
"As new technology comes around we need to be able to assess the risk associated with it. Then as parents we need to make sure our children understand the risks.
"We all go through life and we all make lots of mistakes, but sometimes a mistake can cost your life.
"Our nephew; she doesn't get to see him grow up. She would have been great for him.
"When things like this happen, there's really nothing else in the world but family. If we can save just one family from the same fate... that would be good."
Marshall family thanks community
ONCE again we would like to thank the Lower Clarence Community for its continued support of The Alissa Project.
With all the generous support we were able to raise another $10,000 to be divided between the two foundations.
The annual raffle has been drawn and the winners are:
- 1st prize Maria Leaver. Handmade patchwork quilt donated by Alice Pereira.
- 2nd prize Harry Van-Riel. Photo McFarlane Bridge framed and donated by Peter Forrester.
- 3rd prize Heather Hughes. Cushion donated by Thalia.
Thanks to everyone who bought tickets and a very special thank you to Thalia and Pat for giving up their time each week to sell tickets.
We would also like to thank One Fine Cup and the Clarence Hotel customers for their loose change donations throughout the year. It is amazing how much money these tins can collect in a year.
The monies that have been raised during this year will be divided as before between the Opportunity Cambodia Foundation and The Karuna Foundation.
Both these foundations support the education of some of the poorest provinces in the Siem Reap area of Cambodia.
Through the ongoing correspondence from both the centres the children are all taking every opportunity that is given to them through their education and are all very thankful for our community's efforts to help them achieve a better life for themselves and their families.
Once again thanks for helping us to continue to support something that meant a great deal to Alissa and we really appreciate your continued support.
Knowledge is Power, The Marshall Family