Bree Keller deserves empathy, not judgement
"IT was a sliding doors moment," Bree Keller's mum Tania said.
The moment her daughter chose to get into a high-powered sports car with men she may only have met a short time before.
Looking at the multitude of Instagram pics of the young model plastered over the news it's easy to forget that for four days she remained the unidentified victim of a fiery crash in Sydney's CBD.
It didn't take long for the other passengers, all men, to be ID'd. It was one of their cars. They were all mates.
When you've registered a car, or paid for a hotel room you leave a trail and you're easy to find. Like the mates on the bucks party who had no idea who the woman they took back to their hotel was, when they found her dead the next morning in their shower. The cause of death is yet to be determined.
The recent deaths of Bree and of Natasha Rowley, who police took 11 days to identify, show the cost sometimes of youthful adventurousness, of taking a chance and foregoing your normal secure arrangements.
And while they were adults and they made their own choices, society has a funny attitude to women prepared to take even minor risks. In stepping outside the bounds of what's seen as prudent judgment it's as though they forfeit the same concern we afford to those who stick to the rule book.
So somehow to the public Natasha's death during a bucks night had to be the result of her own recklessness. Why else was she there? A 20-year-old with a bunch of much older blokes. There was concern expressed for the 'awkward' situation that the groom had been placed in, having to explain to his bride why they had brought a young woman home with them.
And Bree getting in the back seat of a Japanese muscle car with men driving too fast, well… you could almost hear the empathy seeping away. As her body lay unidentified for much of the week, she seemed to be a footnote to the central drama of fast cars and furious driving.
It was reminiscent, too, of the death in December of Brit Stacey Tierney in Melbourne, the 29-year-old found one cold morning in a room at a strip club. The 'gentlemen' she was entertaining having long gone home to their families. She died a lonely death in a place far from home.
Like Bree she had been described as a 'free spirit', someone not afraid to take life by the collar and shake it.
Whether they were too impulsive I don't know, but the care that was lacking in the last moments of their lives, should not be echoed in how we, as a community, view them.
That community, of friends and strangers alike, should always be one that is protective, especially towards those who find themselves suddenly in a moment of life-threatening vulnerability.
There is a picture by the famous Mexican photographer Augustin Casasola of the body of a young American woman called Hazel Walker, who was shot dead in a hotel room in the wild city of Juarez, Mexico.
Little is recorded of her death, but her companion skipped town shortly afterwards, leaving her corpse abandoned on a slab in the Juarez Hospital mortuary for an inquest to speculate if she had killed herself or been murdered.
The fact no one cared enough to ever determine this, speaks volumes. She was out of her depth and mixing with the wrong crowd.
That was 1922 - 95 years later not much is different.