HERO DAD: Kate Walter will never get over losing her dad in a road accident caused by a driver using his mobile phone.
HERO DAD: Kate Walter will never get over losing her dad in a road accident caused by a driver using his mobile phone. Patrick Woods

Truck driver's phone lapse to blame for fatal crash

ROAD Trauma Services Queensland volunteers bravely share their stories each month to warn others of the real dangers on our roads and how crashes can impact many lives, years after the event. 

Some are confronting, others are heartbreaking, but all have the same message- have respect on the roads. 

Reporter Megan Mackander attended the February Road Trauma Services Safe Driver Awareness Program at Nambour and chatted to some of those who had harrowing stories to tell.

Kate Walter is one of them....

 

MOOLOOLABA resident Kate Walter will never forget the day she lost her father in a road traffic crash. Her parents, who had been married happily for 50 years, were on a road trip from Victoria back to Queensland when a B-double veered on to the wrong side of the road. And it was all because the truck driver was using a mobile phone.

She will never forget her hero, best friend and role model - her dad.

This is her story in her own words.

MAY 26, 2012 was a day that changed my life in ways I can't even begin to share with you.

My family had just had one of our happiest gatherings - seeing my big brother get married.

Mum and dad are seasoned travellers. In their retirement they had been caravanning around Australia, something that they loved so much.

Dad thought he would use this trip to Melbourne for the wedding as preparation for their final year-long caravan adventure. He wanted to know if setting the cruise control on the car 10kmh under the speed limit would make a difference on the fuel consumption. He was a bit like that. Investigate everything, any chance to make it easier on them.

Two days after the wedding I flew back to Brisbane and mum and dad lingered a bit longer until they began their slow trip home.

For the first time they decided to take the New England Highway, a road they had never driven, but as they wanted to visit a few airplane museums and pass through Tenterfield to visit the famous saddlery this was the only way.

Lunch time came and went and I didn't think anything of it. I did call them but it went straight to message bank so I assumed they were in a no-service area and they would call soon. It came to 2pm and there was a knock at the door.

I opened to find my uncle and aunty and next door neighbour at the door. No one moved.

This is the moment that I find hard to even describe the feeling that came over me.

The pain on my uncle's face told me what I didn't want to hear. All I remember is my legs giving out underneath me and him hugging me so tightly to keep me upright, and although they were saying things the words just didn't make any sense at all.

Mum and dad had stopped for morning tea in a town called Glen Innes. This was the second stop they had made that morning and they had been well rested the night before, so fatigue was not a factor. As I mentioned before dad had the cruise control set 10kmh under the speed limit, so speed was also not a factor.

That stretch of road and the position that they were, when the B-double truck became visible it was drifting on the wrong side of the road and heading straight for them. The trailers were empty, so this truck would weigh somewhere in the region of 63 tonnes. The very thought of this vehicle heading straight towards them must have been terrifying.

READ THE STORIES OF MORE FAMILIES 

Dad had a few seconds to take action. The truck was coming directly towards them with no sign of braking and no sign that the driver was trying to correct the truck. Dad's only option at this point was to swerve the car off the road into a deep ditch by the side of the road.

The B-double truck continued his path off the road, hit dad's side of the car head-on; as the ditch was deep the truck continued driving over the top of their car, killing dad instantly. The truck turned on its side, sliding some 500m, coming to rest in a nearby paddock. The driver of the B-Double walked away with barely a scratch.

It was a long time until we were to discover the cause of this incident. We knew early that speed and fatigue were not a factor for both drivers. It was a 12-month wait to discover the driver of the B-Double was on his mobile phone at the time of the collision. Must have been an important call, right?

For us our journey is still not over. Our legal battle is still in progress. Mum is still going through the insurance claims, compensation for her injuries but the worst of it all is the nightmares, the sounds that haunt her. My dad was my hero, my role model and my best friend. Coming to terms with the fact that my mother has been robbed of her soul mate, my brother and sister and I have lost our dad, a man I count my blessings every day to have had the honour of being his daughter.

How can you come to terms with the fact that this wonderful man was taken from us all because of a cup of coffee?

 

Road Trauma Services Safe Driver Awareness Program  

March 17 Drysdale Funerals Tewantin 

April 21 Caloundra Christian College  

May 26 Caboolture RSL  

June 30 Maroochydore RSL  

July 28 Drysdale Funerals Nambour  

September 1 Drysdale Funerals Tewantin 

October 6 Caloundra Christian College  

November 10 Caboolture RSL  

December 15 Maroochydore RSL   



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