Thornlie Christian College principal recalls brother’s death for road safety remembrance day

Thornlie Christian College principal recalls brother’s death for road safety remembrance day

THORNLIE Christian College principal Bill Innes admits he still gets a lump in his throat when he speaks about his brother’s death.

Mr Innes’ brother Paddy died in a road accident in the Western Cape of South Africa at the age of 17, in 1985. He was driving a car without a licence.

Mr Innes was born in Zimbabwe and lived in South Africa.

He used his experience to speak to the college students as part of the City of Gosnells RoadWise World Day of Remembrance.

“When I was asked to speak on this subject I was somewhat confronted,” he said.

“On the one hand I thought, this should be pretty simple to speak about because I have personal experience in this area.

“On the other hand I thought, wow, this could be pretty confronting to speak about; because I have personal experience in this area.”

Mr Innes said his brother – who was seven years younger – borrowed a ute from a friend without permission. It was unroadworthy and unlicensed.

“Every day, sometimes multiple times a day, we hear reports of road deaths on the media,” he said.

“We don’t pause to think of the families and friends, who are all impacted – forever.

“You cannot believe the pain and trauma that my mum and dad, and my sister, and my other brother, and me, and all his friends and his teachers – and everyone who knew him – and the families and friends of the kids who were with him, had to endure in the years that followed.”

He urged his students to think about the choices that they make, as they will be driving soon.

Mr Innes told this story to his students and guests at Thornlie Christian College, in Southern River.

What happened.

THORNLIE Christian College principal Bill Innes remembers having to identify his brother’s body, as his parents couldn’t go to the police mortuary themselves.

The events took place on the road to a beach called Sedgefield near a town called George in the Western Cape in South Africa.

He recalled it being a Sunday morning and Mr Innes’ brother Paddy decided to take his girlfriend and three of his friends for a drive to the beach.

Paddy and his girlfriend had squeezed into the front seat with another friend alongside them.

The friend had a seatbelt on – but his girlfriend and Paddy didn’t.

His two other friends were sitting in the back of the ute.

As they came around a blind corner, a man was standing in the middle of the road.

Paddy swerved to avoid the man – but he skidded – and the back of his ute hit another oncoming car – and this caused the ute to roll – about five times.

The two on the back of the ute were thrown clear but they suffered multiple fractures and some pretty significant lacerations.

The boy in the front with the seatbelt survived with some minor lacerations.

Mr Innes’ brother’s girlfriend was thrown out of the ute but she smashed her pelvis and her femur and suffered internal injuries along the way.

Paddy was also thrown out of the ute and landed underneath the ute as it rolled and he was crushed.

His girlfriend told Mr Innes afterwards that he just had time to tell her that he loved her and he asked her to send his love to his mum and dad before he died.