A horror no kid should ever forget

EVERY time I drive across the Stewarts River bridge near Johns River township, a vivid childhood memory comes flooding back.

Whenever I hear an ambulance siren and see the rescue unit racing to another Pacific Highway road incident – I refuse to think of them as accidents anymore – my mind goes back decades to a scene of horror no kid could forget.

Why he did it I’ll never know but for some reason, dad allowed me to tag along one Sunday night when the grounds of Coopernook Police station were opened to members of the public wishing to view the remains of a fatal car wreck.

It was an accepted thing back then, probably done as some kind of warning . . . not always heeded, unfortunately.

Must have been the early ’60s as I recall the vehicle – or what was left of it – was an EJ or EK Holden.

The deceased occupants were a husband and wife, married the previous day in Raymond Terrace.

Just hours into their honeymoon, as the sun was rising on the first day of their married life, the car took another curve at high speed on the twisting, winding road to the North Coast and crashed head on into the northbound bridge approach.

Later that afternoon, by the time the public were allowed to view the wreck, the mangled bodies had been cut out and spirited away.

All these years later it isn’t the blood over the seats, dashboard and windscreen I remember but other evidence of lives wasted senselessly.

On the floor below the passenger seat where the new bride would have died, was one single wine glass . . . and a pair of gold, strap-on sandals.

Had she kicked them off after leaving the reception, and (God forbid) were they still toasting their happiness on that night?

Still dreaming with love and optimism of the years spent building a home, raising a family and creating a personal history, all now dreams in ruins?

If I close eyes for a moment I can still picture those bloody sandals and the glass, as if it were yesterday.

And then there’s the smell.

Brought up on the farm, it was the same unforgettable assault on the nostrils that came when a beast was being ‘dressed’ for the larder.

Two new bridges have since been built over Stewarts River but you can still see the remains of the notorious original if you look toward the ranges. It’s in Andrew Stoner’s electorate, I believe.

Decades later that piece of killer road has been upgraded but to the eternal damnation of politicians from every party, too many other death zones still exist after far, far too many vacuous, meaningless promises.

As long as I live I’ll never forget the glass and footwear, every time another life is pointlessly wasted on the Pacific Highway.

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