Welcome to our HEART Hub
I think it’s time I introduced myself. My name is Tarryn and I’m a Mum to two beautiful, amazing kids, Jack – forever 18 years old and Tayla who is 15. Before my world fell apart, I was a Swimming Instructor of 8 years, part owner of a swim school in my hometown of Collie and was also a First Aid Trainer. Life has dealt myself and my family the most horrific hand of cards. It all began in 2015 when my 37-year-old brother, Chadd (Chaddy to me), was diagnosed with cancer. After 9 months of courageously fighting, Chaddy passed away in January 2016. Just when I didn’t think life could get any harder, 15 months later, my whole world fell apart.
In the early moments of Good Friday, 14th April 2017 my beautiful son, Jack, was killed in a car crash in our hometown of Collie, a small regional town in the South West of Western Australia. A crash which was preventable. 20 seconds and 700m was all it took for the driver responsible to take Jack’s life at a roundabout. It is still so surreal to think that in a blink of his beautiful blue eyes, Jack’s life was over.
Jack, an amazing young man with a larger-than-life personality, had a cheekiness that made everyone around him laugh and a big smile that would light up every room he walked into. To describe who Jack is, everyone would say he is a happy, kind and selfless young man who went out of his way to make sure everyone around him was happy. It didn’t matter who you were, he’d always stop for a chat. He was always there for his family, girlfriend and mates when they needed him, whether it was for a chat or a shoulder to lean on and he had a zest for life that never ceased to amaze me. Every opportunity that came his way he grabbed with both hands. Jack was in the second year of his Mechanical Fitter apprenticeship at Synergy in Collie with the world at his feet when his life was taken from him by a dangerous and reckless driver. Jack is now forever 18 years old.
Our lives have been turned upside down and every day since, myself and my family have been trying to navigate life without him. Life is so much harder than I could have ever imagined and every day it feels like I am drowning in sadness. This pain I carry is immeasurable.
The reason for starting this page comes from our own personal experience. We believe all victims of road trauma and those personally affected by it need more support. Road Trauma affects not only families who have lost a loved one but also those who have been injured, their families, friends and the wider community. It is not until you are personally affected, that you can begin to understand how living with road trauma affects every single aspect of someone’s life.
The legal process that follows road trauma is horrendous, exhausting and until you have personally experienced it you cannot begin to understand or comprehend the injustice of it all. Although we had support from our Victim Support Officer and Mediation Officer, nothing really prepared us for what lay ahead with the numerous court hearings, sentencing (in the District Court of Western Australia), the prison and the justice system overall.
Time and time again through our Victim impact statements, our submissions to stop the driver from attending the prisoner employment program, submissions to stop reintegration leave and the astronomical number of submissions put forward to stop parole, we felt we had to prove how losing Jack has affected us every step of the way. Throughout the whole process of court and parole, our hands were tied and the offender was protected. It was an exhausting never-ending fight. A fight for justice that is so one-sided.
After serving only 15 months of a 2.5 year sentence the driver was released from prison and we were devastated. We knew parole would be granted no matter how much we fought, but we still weren’t prepared for the emotional torment it would bring. When the parole period ended, it felt like our world came crashing down all over again. During the numerous court hearings and sentencing, the driver didn’t show any sign of remorse for killing Jack, he showed no emotion when I read my victim impact statement to him at sentencing, there was absolutely nothing from him. Still to this very day, we have never received an apology from him, despite writing a letter to him in prison. This is something we will never be able to forgive.
Last year, after sitting with my anger for 3.5 long years, I decided it was time to share my journey of road trauma and my fight for justice with:
- Attorney General – John Quigley
- Mark McGowan – Premier
- Michelle Roberts – Minister for Police; Road Safety
- Road Safety Commissioner – Adrian Warner
- Commissioner for Victims of Crime – Kati Kraszlan
I shared my journey of road trauma, Jack’s story and the extreme lengths I went to, to fight for the justice my beautiful son so rightly deserved.
I wrote in hope that they would see how the ‘Justice’ system failed my son and my family both in court and throughout the prison process and how it continues to fail every victim of road trauma.
I wrote in hope that they could use their influence and position to help bring about changes to our so-called ‘justice’ system and introduce a mandatory minimum sentence for dangerous driving causing death along with circumstances of aggravation. I expressed my concerns regarding other issues that I believe need to be urgently addressed for victims and their families.
Within a couple of days of receiving my email, Road Safety Commissioner Adrian Warner and Commissioner for Victims of Crime, Kati Kraszlan made contact. Within 2 weeks they were meeting with me at my home. It finally felt like my voice was being heard.
By being in ours and Jack’s home, they saw the carnage of road trauma and the toll it takes on a family. They listened to our journey and everything we had faced with the ‘justice’ system. Discussions were had about court, sentencing, parole and other serious issues regarding the legal system I raised.
I shared with them, my vision of opening a welcoming place in the southwest of Western Australia for victims and their families to connect with people such as myself. A safe place to talk without being counselled, a safe place in which people can sit with other families suffering from road trauma and find solace in knowing that what they are feeling is a ‘normal’ part of the recovery and grieving process. My vision was greatly received as something that needs to happen. My meeting with Adrian and Kati has brought me here, to start up my HEARTS EMBRACE AFTER ROAD TRAUMA page for victims of road trauma, while we work together to bring my vision to life.
There is not a moment or minute that goes by that I don’t think of Jack. He’s at the forefront of my mind every single day. My heart is shattered for everything that has been taken from Jack. I will forever miss the memories we were yet to make. I will never watch him marry the love of his life, see him hold his babies for the very first time and I will forever be reminded of all the milestones of his life that will never happen. I miss his big smile that lit up my whole world and I miss his big hugs that always made me feel safe. I miss his big infectious laugh. There are not enough words to describe how much I love and miss Jack. I will forever spend the rest of my life searching for moments of him.
Losing Jack has changed my life in ways that only people walking in my shoes will understand. No one should have to endure the pain and suffering that has been forced upon us and I hope that whoever reads this doesn’t ever have to live the nightmare I am trying to survive every day. I share Jack’s story and my journey in the hope of bringing people together and helping save lives, both on and off our roads.
Watch this space as my vision and legacy for Jack unfolds.