Denise Edwards still shudders when remembering the Sky News bulletin, which broadcast the horrific car crash that claimed her son Jesse’s life on a rural New South Wales highway.
But the Werribee mother of five now wants the tragedy to be a catalyst for change. And has spent the past 16 months researching how the horrific accident could have been avoided.
On the day of the accident in December 2015, Jesse, 19, was travelling with four friends in a car from Melbourne to the Gold Coast for a holiday.
The car veered off the Newell Highway– near Narrabri – and crashed into a tree, leaving Jesse – who was sitting in the front passenger seat – and the driver dead, with the three others suffering minor to severe injuries.
Unfortunately in NSW, the incidence of single-car motor vehicle accidents is close to 3,000 a year. In 2014, NSW Government figures showed that there were 70 single-vehicle fatalities and 2,786 injury crashes across the state.
Mrs Edwards, who has driven from Melbourne to the site four times since that fateful day, is still haunted by the accident.
“Every day I think about it, that piece of road and what could have been done,” Mrs Edwards said. “Our family has been devastated by this – we will never be the same.”
Mrs Edwards has researched various road conditions in bid to pinpoint what could have been done to ensure Jesse was still alive.
She said she believes that rumble strips and wired fencing may have made the difference for Jesse and has written to the NSW Government and NSW Roads and Maritime Services Department suggesting that these measures be implemented along the stretch of the Newell Highway. Unfortunately no action has been taken at this point.
“I just couldn’t imagine another family going through something like this, I think there needs to be more awareness and more safety measures – unfortunately it’s too late for my son,” she said.
Slater and Gordon Lawyer Craig Lynch said Mrs Edwards and her family deserved to have her suggestions considered by the NSW Government. Mr Lynch said the family’s legal matters were slightly more complex than usual given that they were dealing with legislation and procedures across two different states.