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The bridge that Ella James built

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH - Tuesday 3 April 2001


Safe at last Bulli primary school students cross their new bridge.
Picture: Tracee Lea

By STEPHEN DOWNIE

THIRTEEN years after a community pleaded for help, a bridge that could have saved the life of a seven-year-old schoolgirl was used by her former classmates for the first time yesterday.

While parents were relieved children would now have safe access over a busy section of the Princes Hwy at Bulli, for most, the day was tinged with sadness that Ella James had to die for its construction.

As Jennifer Tibben and her children Stephen, 10 and Helena 7, crossed the bridge she could not help but feel the significance of the day.

"It's a relief it's ail over," Mrs Tibben said. "It's a sad day for the community and our thoughts are with the James and Fielitz families."
Ella and her best friend Corinne Fielitz were run down outside Bulli Public School seven months ago.

Ella was killed and Corinne seriously injured.

Joyce Campbell, 80, who was driving the car that knocked the pair down, in January was sentenced to six month's home detention as part of an 18-month suspended jail sentence.

Ella's father, Steve, said the lack of a bridge had cost his daughter her life.

"If they had built the bridge when people asked them to my daughter would still be alive," he said.

Mr James said the bridge was "a good result" for the people who had struggled for so long to have it built.

Yesterday students from Bulli public school were instructed class-by-class on how to use the bridge.

Over the past five years, more than 1700 child pedestrians have been killed or injured on NSW roads.

This Friday's Walk Safely to School Day aims to teach primary school students how to cross roads safely.
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