Thursday March 3rd 2016 dawned like any other day. Families everywhere got up and prepared themselves for another Thursday; getting ready for work, getting ready for school and going about their day.
In the small rural South Australian town of Hoyleton they were soon to discover it was nothing like any other day. As most of us went about our morning routine many lives were irrevocably changed with the tragic accident that took the life of 7 year old Connor Thomson-Dulwich.
The lives of his loving family will never be the same with the Connor sized void in their lives. There will always be a hole in their home but never in their hearts, there he will always reside. Lovingly remembered and never far from their thoughts.
Connor was a much loved member of his school community, football club and family. He was a vibrant, cheeky and loving child with a smile that lit up the room. His was a smile that you couldn’t help but return and it will be one of many things that will never be forgotten about him. He touched the lives of everyone that he knew.
Family friend Rohanna Schutz knows there is no way to help ease the pain of the family but wanted to do something to help. She started a gofundme campaign to help raise funds for the family to ease financial stress in the upcoming months as they try to adjust to this new and heartbreaking family dynamic. Schutz says she knows money is no compensation but hopefully this fund can help give them the gift of time together without being forced back to work while they are still grieving and struggling to find their way. This is a time when it is so important for the family to be able to pull together and spend time with Connor’s 4 siblings so they can all help each other to heal.
I am a parent, and I am a sibling, and I can not begin to imagine the heartbreak and pain being faced every day by Connor’s parents and his brothers and sisters. Anything I want to say feels like platitudes that can’t help because I can understand loss, I can even understand the loss of a sibling but I can’t possibly begin to understand the pain of this tragedy.
Connor was in sight of his house when the accident occurred, almost ready to get on the school bus.
In rural areas like Hoyleton, and closer to my home in the hills, the school bus picks up and drops off children alongside the road and there aren’t always designated bus stops. There are also no signs to warn drivers of children. There are signs on the back of school buses to tell drivers of a 25km limit when the bus is stopped but what about when the bus isn’t in view?
This is a question Connor’s mum Kerry wants to have answered.
A car doesn’t need to be speeding on rural roads to tragically cut short the life of a child; especially when the bus stop is on a road with a limit of 80-100km/hr.
The area around schools has a speed limit of 25km/hr for the safety of the children and that is at any time that children are present. Kerry believes that there should be signs on roads with bus stops lowering the limit while children are waiting for the bus. It can’t bring her Connor back but if it can save the life of another child then at least it will save another family from the pain Connor’s family and friends are facing.
We were talking the other day and driving through the Hills there are some places with the yellow warning signs stating that there could be children crossing, these aren’t in areas near schools but I’m thinking near bus stops maybe. Since hearing of this terrible tragedy I have certainly been more observant and there is only one of these signs on the road from my house to my children’s school, and I am pretty sure the bus stops out on the main road in a few different spots. There aren’t any of them on the Blyth Plains Rd either.
This is such a heartbreaking time and I can only send strength and support to the Dulwich family and hope that Kerry is successful in her quest to have signage erected in ares where buses are stopping to pick up and drop off children, not only to lower speed limits when buses are present but anytime that children are present because no family should have to hurt like this.
The focus at the moment is on getting through this first couple of weeks, and making it through the heartbreak of Connor’s funeral. I have spoken with Kerry and there is no petition at the moment but there are definitely plans to have one started. I will post the link to the petition when it is live for any who wish to sign, I know that I certainly will be. Children’s safety shouldn’t start when they get to the school zone, it needs to start from when they leave the house.
Road sense and safety consciousness only goes so far; you can stop look, listen and think but if the speed limit is 80 it isn’t going to take long for a car to appear out of nowhere.
My thoughts, strength and support go out to the Dulwich family at this tragic time.