Family and friends attend the funeral of Nyles Reynders in Nambour.
Family and friends attend the funeral of Nyles Reynders in Nambour. Warren Lynam

TRAGEDY: Families' unspoken truth of living with road deaths

BEYOND the devastating grief of losing a loved one, families broken by road tragedies have revealed the unspoken truth of life after they're gone in an effort to save lives.

Since December 30, four families felt the direct impact of losing a wife, husband, father and son, either a Coast local or on Sunshine Coast roads.

In the lead-up to another holiday period over Australia Day, more people will be on the roads in another busy and potentially dangerous time to be driving.

Three men and an unidentified woman were killed between December 30 and January 1, including Buderim man Warren Bornman, West Woombye man Nyles Reynders and well-known teacher Mick Kelso. A woman also died after her car ploughed into the Noosa River.

After losing his brother Mick Kelso on New Year's Eve, Damien Kelso said their family would never be the same and reinforced that nobody was immune to road tragedy - even a father to three young children.

"There is very little margin of error when using the roads... but the carnage can be minimised by being cautious and having a plan to arrive safely to your family," he said.

 

(From left) Angie Kelso with sons Ollie and Bodhi, Mick Kelso and daughter Charlie.
(From left) Angie Kelso with sons Ollie and Bodhi, Mick Kelso and daughter Charlie. Contributed

Mick's death was a shock to the Kelso family after he was hit by a car in Mountain Creek in a "poorly lit" area.

Damien said the hardest part was simply understanding he was gone forever.

"I find myself lost in thoughts, shaking my head in disbelief and I don't see that changing any time soon," he said.

"There is little to no reasoning process that will help us grasp the fact that he will never come home.

"We'll never have a joke and a laugh and see that warm, cheeky grin again."

 

Mick Kelso and his son, Bodhi.
Mick Kelso and his son, Bodhi. Contributed

Circumstances surrounding Mick's death were still relatively unclear but it was believed Mick had been drinking and the driver was "not completely at fault".

Damien said the haze surrounding his death was hard to swallow and even the smartest people made mistakes.

"We're grateful that the driver was uninjured... had things gone differently, there could have been multiple fatalities which would have been almost impossible to deal with," he said.

"One life lost in a senseless accident is one too many."

Brigette Reynders, sister of Woombye man Nyles Reynders, said losing her brother with a whole life ahead of him in a preventable accident shook her the most.

The 21-year-old died after a single-vehicle crash in West Woombye on New Year's Eve. He was rushed to hospital but later died.

 

Nyles Reynders.
Nyles Reynders.

Brigette said her family received tremendous support but people didn't realise their actions took a toll on paramedics and first-responders.

"Unfortunately the first-aiders get very little support and help, but we are very lucky that wonderful people came to Nyles' aid that night," she said.

 

Family and friends attend the funeral of Nyles Reynders in Nambour.
Family and friends attend the funeral of Nyles Reynders in Nambour. Warren Lynam

Sunshine Coast District Forensic Crash Unit officer in charge, Senior Sergeant Sherryn Klump said witnesses were also among the responders who saw the carnage of road tragedy.

"Police respond to many critical incidents and we have internal and external support such as Psychological Support Officers, and access to external counselling and mental health support," she said.

Snr Sgt Klump said police enforcement would ramp up over the long weekend and focus on the main cause of road death - the fatal five.

Drink/drug driving, speed, failure to wear seatbelts, fatigue and distraction were the biggest killers.

"Unfortunately, we also do see people trying to travel distances for long weekends and don't take sufficient breaks to refresh," Snr Sgt Klump said.

"The fatal five keep coming up as the predominant contributing causes of fatal and serious injury traffic crashes, which is why they require ongoing attention."

 

Warren Bornman served in the military.
Warren Bornman served in the military.

In the wake of Nyles' death, Brigette was calling for compulsory defensive driving courses for learner drivers.

She urged motorists to take their time on the roads over the holidays.

"Please take your time, slow down and drive to the conditions. I would have rather had my brother come home an hour later than not at all," she said.

Damien said despite an array of responsible service of alcohol and road safety measures available, people continued to ignore the warnings.

"People know the risks of using the roads and unfortunately all too often, especially in Mick's case, even the brightest people make mistakes, resulting in the most severe consequences," he said.

Confronting judgemental questions their family was unable to answer was also an aspect of Mick's death that was hard to cope with.

"People are so quick to judge nowadays," he said.

"There's no rule book or policy on how to cope with such a devastating loss as a sudden death.

"If we can share Mick's story and help prevent just one more family from having to experience what we have, it's worth it."



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