Mum’s pain over simple safety plea
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.