WA Police Legacy there for Lachlan
■ Lachlan Capes knows everything about his father.
But unlike many children who grow up to learn these things by spending time with their parent, Lachlan learnt by asking questions.
“I don’t remember him, I was too young for that,” he said.
“They always say I look like him and I ask them questions and they tell me things … his parents and my grandparents.
“I go to see my grandparents every now and then and whenever I go we always end up having a conversation about him.”
Lachlan Capes was just two years old when the plane his father was travelling in crashed on descent into Newman.
Lachlan’s father was travelling back from a remote community with three of his police colleagues on Australia Day in 2001 when the accident occurred.
Emergency services spent six hours scouring remote bushland before the crash site was found.
A memorial now marks the final resting place of Constable Gavin Ashley Capes and his colleagues Senior Constable Philip Ruland, First Class Constable David Dewar and Senior Constable Donald Everett.
Police number 10305 will not only forever be etched into the minds of Lachlan’s family, but also the minds of the residents of Newman and the emergency service staff and volunteers who worked to help find the men.
Many of those residents are still in Newman today and welcome the Capes family and the families of all the men each year for the Bloody Slow Cup, a rugby match held in the policemen’s honour. “I speak to a lot of people and everyone just comes up to me and welcomes me like they have known me forever, so it’s like a big sort of family,” Lachlan said. “It’s a very close town.” Lachlan, who has just graduated from high school, intends to join the army.
The 17-year-old is following in the footsteps of not only his father, but many of his family members before him.
“I’ve wanted to be in the army ever since I was a young kid,” he said.
“All my family have served so I’ve always looked up to my uncles and stuff for that, and then as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realise it’s more than a job and a great service.”
On his pathway to the army, Lachlan has paid tribute to the organisation that has helped his family since the 2001 tragedy, WA Police Legacy.
Lachlan said WA Police Legacy had not only financially helped him and his family, but it had also provided support throughout his life. “Their main priority is not to keep you stable in terms of money; it’s to keep you stable inside of your head,” he said.
“But personally, to me the support they have given me is a sense of understanding of my career choice, as in the army.
“They’ve given me the opportunity to have some experience of army things, such as orienteering.
“They teach you many things and I ask many questions so they’ve given me that guidance and the vision for where I want my life to lead, and they’ve also backed me in that.
“It’s family. But I really mean that because all your life they do everything they can.
“They go out of their way to do anything possible to help you.”
Lachlan said he felt an immense amount of gratitude to the Newman community.
“Thank you for all the years you have supported me, my family and the fallen officers,” he said.
Lachlan Capes at the 2015 Bloody Slow Cup memorial service.