Welcome to Bless This Road

I established this blog to have conversations with people before the Bless This Road event to be held in Uki, NSW on 30 September 2018.

At that event, we will remember three beautiful people who lost their lives on the Kyogle Road near Braeside Drive in Uki – in two separate car crashes. Matilda Bevelander, her 16-year old daughter, Cecilia Bevelander, and my husband, Karl Langheinrich, would be with us today if that road had been properly planned, designed, and managed. But it was not and they died tragically in crashes there.

I blessedly survived and it’s my job to tell their story so that others will not die in similar circumstances.

 

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Matilda and Cecilia Bevelander

 

Karl headshot 2014

                                                           Karl Langheinrich, 2014

 

Matilda Bevelander age 15

Matilda Bevelander, 2014

Now the road is being repaired and we are gathering – friends and family of all three people – to celebrate their lives, to heal our brokenness in losing them, to learn more about what constitutes road safety in the modern professional world, to bless the new road, and to say our final farewells to our loved ones. We have asked local people, our neighbours, friends, and family to accompany us on this final stage of our mourning journeys.

What John Bevelander and I have learned since Matilda and Cecilia died (in January 2015) and Karl died (in February 2016) is that our roads need to be more forgiving. As driver error will always be with us, despite everything we do to eliminate it, we must put more emphasis on the design of the road: to have a Safe System to ensure that a moment’s inattention will not result in a death sentence. Cecilia’s momentary crossing the double line killed her and her daughter in a head-on crash. But actually, poor road design killed them. Equally, Karl lost control on a curve, skilled, the car aquaplaned, and we fell 40 metres into the Tweed River below. He drowned in front of me and I barely escaped. His inattention cost him his life. But actually, the road killed him because there was no guardrail to stop us plunging into the river below.

At the beginning of our Bless This Road event on 30 September, we will have a two-hour hard-hitting workshop on road safety to explain – and work through — the principles of Safe System approach. We have a leading expert to guide us, Dr Lori Mooren, who earlier in her career was responsible of road safety in New South Wales. The advice from workshop participants in the communiqué from this workshop will be sent to all senior politicians and road safety specialists throughout Australia and will be published in a leading UK online road transport journal in December.

I will explain the day’s program in detail in later posts.

If you would like to attend our event or learn more about Safe System approaches to road planning and design,

please contact

Wendy Sarkissian at wendy@sarkissian.com.au

or leave a comment on this blog

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6 thoughts on “Welcome to Bless This Road

  1. It’s an extraordinary effort from you Wendy, and your friends, to get this piece of road fixed so well. I drive it regularly and it is a deadly drive in many ways. Beautiful country with the Tweed River beside you means you could be easily distracted on the winding roads. Love and admiration for your effort as you have done a lot of people a big favour, though they will never know it was you. I hope to be in Uki on the “Bless This Road” day.

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    1. Thank you, Michael. The Nimbin people will know that that is where Karl died. Now I can see that his death will save lives, as the road is now properly repaired and will open next month. Your support is much appreciated! Wendy

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  2. Its a testament to your courage and kindness, Wendy, to take what has been a tragic occurrence in your life and turn it in to a way that will inevitably be a benefit to the community. Your unending bravery and grace are outstanding.

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    1. Oh, thank you, Peter. You have to remember that I was myself snatched from death. So to me, it seems right that I should now use my life for something that benefits humankind. Yes? One thing I know for sure: nobody else is going into the Tweed River to die in that exact spot.

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  3. Your unwavering determination to protect all lives on that road is so commendable. From tragedy will come many blessings for future drivers and passengers.

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