Mum’s pain over sim­ple safety plea

The Advertiser - - NEWS - MITCH MOTT

THE knock on the door was the mo­ment ev­ery par­ent dreads.

It woke Toni Ni­colo from a nap on the couch but did not rouse her hus­band Carm, who had gone to bed be­fore an early start the next morn­ing.

From the mo­ment the two uni­formed po­lice of­fi­cers told the cou­ple their 23-year-old daugh­ter Bree had died in a car crash only min­utes from the fam­ily home, their lives fell apart.

Now Mrs Ni­colo, 53, and her hus­band have suc­cess­fully pe­ti­tioned the State Gov­ern­ment to make a mi­nor traf­fic change which could have saved their daugh­ter’s life.

Af­ter four months of bu­reau­cratic runaround and be­ing shunted be­tween Trans­port Min­is­ter Stephan Knoll’s of­fice and Road Safety Min­is­ter Corey Win­gard’s of­fice, Mrs Ni­colo has fi­nally been given an an­swer to her con­tin­ued emails and phone calls.

Mrs Ni­colo was ask­ing for the speed limit over the Bridge­wa­ter exit at the South Eastern Free­way to be re­duced to 60km/h across the bridge.

Cur­rently the speed limit changes to 80km/h halfway across the bridge as cars hur­tle be­tween two busy in­ter­sec­tions, where Bree’s car was struck side-on by an­other car on April 4, 2016.

Mrs Ni­colo told The Ad­ver­tiser she wanted the speed in­crease moved less than 100m to­wards Mount Ge­orge.

This would mean cars could not speed up un­til they had passed the busy in­ter­sec­tion.

She also has been pe­ti­tion­ing for Stop signs at the in­ter­sec­tion to force driv­ers to a halt be­fore mak­ing the turn.

Yes­ter­day, Mr Knoll said he would act on the ad­vice of a favourable RAA re­port and make the changes the Ni­co­los have been ask­ing the gov­ern­ment to make.

“This was a tragic in­ci­dent,” Mr Knoll said.

“Once this mat­ter was brought to my at­ten­tion, I asked the depart­ment to fast track this in­ves­ti­ga­tion so we could act on any rec­om­men­da­tions as soon as pos­si­ble.

“DPTI will re­lo­cate the ‘Re- duce Speed’ sign to a po­si­tion in ad­vance of the Ad­vance Di­rec­tion sign, giv­ing driv­ers more warn­ing.

“It has also been de­ter­mined that the 80km/h speed limit sign will be moved to ap­prox­i­mately 300m past the Bridge­wa­ter exit ramp to ex­tend the 60km/h speed limit zone past the junc­tions.”

But for Mrs Ni­colo, the dam­age has al­ready been done.

She said the ini­tial re­jec­tion by Mr Knoll’s of­fice, de­spite the help of her lo­cal mem­ber of par­lia­ment Josh Teague, had opened up old wounds and had dev­as­tated her and her hus­band.

“I can’t un­der­stand for the life of me why this is so dif­fi­cult,” Mrs Ni­colo said.

“It’s been re­ally cruel that they have dragged this out so long, they haven’t shown us re­spect and dig­nity.”

Mrs Ni­colo now fears that there will be fur­ther de­lays in mak­ing the change af­ter Mr Knoll wrote to Mr Teague that the change would re­quire coun­cil en­dorse­ment.

The Ni­colo house­hold is a me­mo­rial to her daugh­ter, adorned with pho­tos and mem­o­ries of Bree who was study­ing speech pathol­ogy at Flin­ders Univer­sity.

“She was just such a cool, unique and eclec­tic young woman who was loved by ev­ery­one, she had so much to of­fer,” Mrs Ni­colo said.

“She was a de­bate cham­pion and a per­fect stu­dent. She was a pre­fect at Sey­mour Col­lege and ed­i­tor of their Black Watch mag­a­zine

“The tragedy of it is that she trav­elled all around the world and did so much and this hap­pened so close to home.”

Bree was head­ing home af­ter study­ing with a friend when the crash hap­pened.

For more than two years af­ter the crash, Mrs Ni­colo avoided the in­ter­sec­tion where her daugh­ter died.

But four months ago, on the ad­vice of her doc­tor, she went to the site of the crash for the first time, des­per­ately seek­ing some kind of clo­sure.

“I was look­ing around and I started think­ing that maybe there was a way to help, that maybe it could have been pre­vented,” Mrs Ni­colo said.

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