This morning is gloriously warm and sunny - a sight which would normally bring a smile to my face, but for once I wish it wasn’t so bright and welcoming, because it’s not that kind of day. In the early hours of this morning, Noel and I stood at the roadside comforting one of our dearest friends, Steven*, just 17 years old. We all watched helplessly as his 20 year old sister Melanie* and a girl friend were airlifted to hospital. Their two male companions were taken to the mortuary soon after. Police and support workers agreed it was the worst accident ever seen in our quiet rural area - and one which had occurred so needlessly. The accident happened just a couple of kilometres from our friends’ home - all the carload of young people had been doing was driving around the block to recharge a cellphone. The driver, a likeable and usually responsible young man was proud to drive his friends around in the new car which he had only purchased two days before. The four of them had been drinking all afternoon. The car became airborne at an estimated speed of 160km/h. Not one of them was wearing a seatbelt. Noel and I waited with Steven, while Melanie’s mother rode with her daughter in the helicopter and we waited for their father to make the long trip down the mountain road over an hour away where he had been staying with family, before facing another hour’s drive to the hospital ahead. We waited until news came through that Melanie was going to pull through and seeing that Steven had a bed with friends for the night, we returned to their family home to lock up and make sure everything was in order. Two boxes worth of empty bottles were strewn all over the veranda. We took them away so the family wouldn’t be greeted by the sight of them when they eventually came home. Two lives lost, two more critically injured and many more permanently scarred for $80 worth of bourbon and coke.
* Names have been changed.