Five killed in eleven days - Call for road safety summit

The Daily Telegraph

Saturday 29 May 2004

THE death toll on the region's roads for the last 11 days jumped to five when an elderly man was killed crossing the street at Wamberal yesterday morning.

A police spokeswoman said the man killed at Wamberal, believed to be in his 60s and the father of at least one daughter, was attempting to cross the road at the intersection of The Entrance Road and Reeds Street when he was struck by a car around 10.15am.

"It looks like he was not paying as much attention as he needed to when he walked in between two cars to cross the road and was struck by a third."

"The man died shortly after the impact, and while the accident is being investigated at this stage it looks like an accident and no one will be charged."

The tragedy came just hours after the victim of a car accident in Jilliby last week had his life support turned off on Thursday night -- on the same day senior police had made a desperate plea for safer driving following the string of road deaths.

Wyee resident 18-year-old Jessica Morlin was killed in a car accident on Hue Hue Road at Jilliby on Tuesday May 17 when her boyfriend Mitch Danieletto crashed into a tree. He also suffered massive injuries that would prove to be fatal, including the loss of both of his legs.

An 89-year-old woman was killed near Munyana St at Copacabana last Friday when a driver, who told police he could not see because of strong sunlight in his eyes, collided with her.

And Berkeley Vale resident, 23-year-old Jodie Sullivan was killed last Wednesday on Lakedge Ave, at Berkeley Vale, after crashing her car into a drain in wet conditions. It is believed she was not wearing a seat belt.

On Thursday night, Mitch Danieletto's parents made the difficult decision to turn off their son's life support after being told he had also suffered irreversible brain damage.

Chairman of the Pedestrian Council, Harold Scruby, said the last 10 days of tragedy should serve as a warning to both drivers and pedestrians to be more
responsible or continue to suffer the consequences of accidents that could be avoided.

"The trends show that pedestrian deaths are higher than the same time last year, whereas driver deaths are on the decrease, which shows there needs to be more focus on protecting pedestrians and pedestrians protecting themselves by not doing silly things like walking into traffic," he said.

"The State Government needs to call a summit on this and I would like to see a real push to enforce jaywalking rules. The police don't do it and I would like to see the responsibility handed over to council rangers because it could help prevent horrible events like this from happening."

The cousin of Mitch Danieletto, Ricky Danieletto, said he believed more needed to be done by both road users and planners to protect people from experiencing the same tragic events that have hit his family.

"I grew up on the Central Coast and I know what it is like and something needs to be done.

"Mitch is with Jessica looking down at us now but maybe it could have all been avoided."

The Country Roads Safety Summit in Port Macquarie served as an ironic backdrop to the last 10 days. At the summit, shadow minister for regional development Andrew Stoner said a shift in government strategy was needed to prevent more deaths on country roads.

"A shift in strategy is needed if we are to achieve a meaningful drop in the road toll," he said. "A strategy that recognises that ... humans will
inevitably make mistakes."