April 17th 1995 - Easter Monday.
We woke early, excited to be going in the truck with Darren (cracka)
Tamika aged 2 years and Khaleb aged 1 year.
Tamika worshiped her daddy. He would ring whenever he was able and Tamika would get on the phone and say "me go daddy" me go". She loved going with her dad in the truck and occasionally she went with Darren on her own. She would wait at the front door for him to arrive. I'd get a quick kiss and they'd be off.
It was 6.30am when we left home. Darren loaded sheep from the farmers paddock into our stock crate. It was bitterly cold, so, I stayed in the truck with Khaleb and Tamika while Darren loaded. We were held up for longer than usual, as the truck had 2 flat tyres. By the time Darren changed them time was getting away. We followed Phill, he loaded at the same property and was a driver also.
I had only just met him that morning. It was Phill idea to stop for an early lunch.
It seemed to be getting colder as the day went on, we went into the cafe and ordered lunch. Khaleb ran a muck, he was so full of life. Our lunch arrived and we all sat together and ate.
We arranged to go to Phil's for a BBQ tea when we got back home latter that day.
We were on our way again, Phill leading the way in his B-double, I talked to him on the UHF
finalising details for tea that night.
Tamika & Khaleb were in the bunk. Khaleb was pigging out on lollies and Tamika was playing with her doll. This doll was her favorite. If you kissed it on the forehead it would talk. It said different things.
Khaleb (man-o) as I called him, was getting sleepy, so I put him on my lap and gave him his bottle. He loved to be cuddled to sleep.
Tamika tapped my arm, she wanted a cuddle also, I said "let mummy get man-o to sleep then I'll cuddle you" She was so patient. she moved forward and sat on the fridge between Darren & I.
I glanced at my watch, it was 11.05 am. we were going up a hill. The road was under repair, loose gravel and a lot of dust.
Darren told me to look in his mirror, I could see a car trying to overtake us, but he thought better of it and pulled back in.
We topped the hill and started our descent. We had traveled this road 100's of times, I knew there was a narrow bridge at the bottom of the hill.
Darren broke the silence "look at this idiot" I looked and here was that same car trying to overtake us again, he was only 1/2 on the road. I looked ahead and saw the bridge, looked back in the mirror and the car appeared to be in the same spot. Man-o sat up. Darren swore, he moved the truck over to allow the car extra room. I watched that car go onto the Bridge but the truck seemed to be leaning, falling. I grabbed man-o, I wrapped my arms around him firmly and said aloud "please god not like this" I looked at Darren and told him I loved him, then shut my eyes.
I could hear Darren calling me, I opened my eyes, I couldn't move. It was pitch black and something was so heavy, crushing me. I called out to Darren, but he couldn't see me. I could hear him throwing things, then people were talking.
I had trouble breathing, my nose was bleeding and something was so heavy. Why was it so dark I thought?
Darren was yelling for people to help him find me, I heard him say "someone ring an ambulance".A man was talking to me. Asking my name who else was with us, then I remembered man-o and Tamika. Tamika must be with Darren but Man-o, my arms were pinned underneath me, I was laying face down, I could not move. Man-o was under me. I was on top of him, I squeezed my stomach in as tight as I could, there was no movement. No sound. I tried with all my might to pull my arms out. I was trapped, the only part of me that I could move was my head.
I could feel myself going to be sick, I started vomiting and at that moment I knew if I panicked I would die. I would choke on my own vomit and blood,
I asked God to watch over Darren. I asked that God could make the ambulance hurry, and please let me black out. After what seemed like hours I asked a rescue worker what time it was, he replied 2.30pm. At that moment I felt panic rising again. I had been trapped for 3 hours. I had no idea where Darren and Tamika were.
I'd already gone through 3 oxygen bottles that had been taped to a stick and poked down through a hole in the floor of the truck. I understood that I had been thrown down an embankment and the truck had rolled on top of me.
The rescue workers were unsure how to get me out without crushing me further, so they decided to cut the truck apart piece by piece. The truck & trailer weighed 42 ton, it had a full load of sheep and there was no way of pulling it up the embankment. The pain was unbearable, I prayed again that I could go to sleep, "please God let me sleep."
At this point I heard a voice say "Talk to me" "talk to me" The people above shouted to each other "one's alive" ' there is still one alive. I tried to tell them that it was just Tamika's doll, but they couldn't hear my whisper over there excitement.
Finally they asked which child was talking and the agony I felt as I said again "its a doll" I knew then that Tamika was gone also.
Why was the doll talking? it was trapped with me, it should have been talking all along or at least until the batteries went flat. Did God have a hand in this, to keep me holding on?
4 1/2 hours after the truck went over I felt myself being dragged through burrs and dirt
I could finally see daylight. I was moving along the ground on my belly, someone was pulling me by my ankles.
Then I saw man-o. No one, in your wildest dreams will ever know the anguish, the agony I felt at that moment. Seeing my baby laying there. I tried to reach out and grab him but I was being dragged in the opposite direction.
I arrived at Yass hospital about 4.10 pm, where I was wrapped in heated blankets, neck brace and straps so I couldn't move. I asked a nurse " where are my babies?" She told me that they had been brought here. I begged her to let me see them.
She left and returned a few moments latter holding my baby wrapped in a white hospital blanket. she lent down and I could see my baby's face.
I was strapped down. I couldn't move or hold my own baby, She placed Tamika's face next to mine and I kissed her little cheek, she was so cold, tears filled my eyes, my heart ached, her life was gone. The nurse left and returned a few minutes latter with man-o, she went through the same motions as did I.
I told him how sorry I was ' I was sure I killed him" I desperately wanted to warm them, breath life back into them, but I knew it was useless.
I was airlifted to Canberra in a critical condition, I still had no idea where Darren was. I was placed in intensive care, still conscious.
I remember seeing Darren walk in and I was flooded with emotion, "Thank you God for saving him"
The next few months were sketchy as I was sedated heavily. I underwent several major operations, blood transfusions and skin grafts. Gangrene had set in to my left thigh, I had crushed several vertebra's in my back and I had many cuts and bruises.
Darren was told "she will never walk again, it is a miracle she is alive, she has the cold to thank for saving her leg."
I should have been a quadriplegic as the bones in my spine were crushed and piercing my spinal cord. After removing the gangrene and doing skin grafts I had 150 staples holding it in place, only to be told on Mothers day, that I have an infection and they would have to re-do the whole operation again.
That was my lowest point, I wanted to give up, I wanted to die....
It got harder, I was released from hospital after 3 months, but I was still unable to care for myself, Darren looked after me night and day, I had to wear a hard thick plastic body back brace 24/7 and my leg had to be dressed daily, I was unable to walk so I was totally dependent on him for everything. It took a long time to heal physically, but the heart ache and sorrow will never go it is just tucked away under the surface.
I have been through the anger, the disbelief, the unbearable sorrow, the hurt, the feeling that your heart has been ripped out of your chest and stomped on, the dark cold loneliness.
The... why me? why my babies? What If...If only..
I have had to look at two empty rooms with 2 empty beds and toys on the floor as they were left. I have cried on there pillows with the smell of them still fresh. I have had to deal with my heart aching for the missing cuddles, deal with the feeling of helplessness and emptiness.
I have felt every possible emotion a person can feel.
I truly believe that you have to keep looking for the positives (They were not raped or murdered, they were not kidnapped never to be seen again.)
Please, if you have lost a child, a husband, a wife, mother, father or a friend
as hard as it is, try to focus on just one positive thing.
Maybe the fact that you told them you loved them or that you kissed them goodnight....whatever it may be, it is somewhere to start.
No, you never ever get over loosing a loved one..
Yes, it is o.k. to cry...some memories just roll down our cheeks..