Vancouver, Canada, 23 August 2018
Remember our Karl? That cheeky smile and warm brown laugh. Those gentle, quirky ways? His raggedy jeans falling off his bony hips? The Oasis’ bush philosopher?
(Oh, sigh. My sweet Beloved.)
Karl died on 6 February 2016, when our car plummeted 30 metres from the Kyogle Road into the Tweed River near Uki.
He drowned in front of me. I could not save him.
Since Karl’s death on the Kyogle Road, I have morphed into a passionate road safety activist. Now I believe that the poor bugger died so that I’d get the bloody road fixed. So nobody else would die there. And fixed it is – after years of desperate lobbying. Federal black spot funding. It opens this month.
So that is good.
But to ensure that Karl did not die in vain, I believe we need to make the lessons of his death explicit. We need to consider what it means when people die on our rural roads. Because the statistics are staggering. From 2010 to 2016, a period of only seven years, five people died on that exact same stretch of Kyogle Road.
In only seven years.
(Not to mention the injuries.)
If five people died in the same place in plane crashes over seven years, there would be a national outcry. ‘How could this happen?’ we’d cry.
But five people died there. And nobody was listening. They were mere ‘statistics’. ‘Fatalities’, the ‘road toll’. Dots on a map. Points on a graph.
Karl, as we all remember, was hardly a statistic. He was a warm, living being who loved life – and all beings (three-legged dogs, especially). And now he is dead. His moment’s inattention on a curve on a winding, wet, slippery road cost him his life. He lost control, poor soul. A death sentence should not be the outcome of a small error. Our roads need to be safer, to be more ‘forgiving’.
You can help me make the learning from Karl’s death explicit by attending our day of road safety education, healing, and celebration in Uki on September 30th.
John Bevelander, who lost both is wife and teenaged daughter on the Kyogle Road in January 2015, is co-hosting Bless This Road with me on Sunday 30th September from 9:30 to 2:30 at the Uki Public Hall.
To learn more and to RSVP, please go to:
Or email me, Wendy Sarkissian, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please, please, do come and speak out for road safety in the Northern Rivers. The time is now. Right now!
I desperately need your support.