Car crashes no accident 

STAWELL - It has taken Tracey Ellen a long time to accept that no car crash can be classified as an 'accident'.

The one year anniversary of her son Dean's death past earlier this month and the wounds are still fresh.

"There is no such thing as an accident," Ms Ellen said.

"It would be lovely to think it was just an accident, but it is not. People make choices behind the wheel that lead to those things happening - That is no accident.

"People are sober when they make the decision to start drinking and they need to have a plan in place if they are going to have a big night, because drinking or drugs are a mind altering thing that will affect your driving.

"This is what has been discovered to have been the cause behind the crash that killed Dean."

Dean moved from Stawell to Western Australia with his girlfriend Sherridyn early last year for work commitments.

It was on October 1, 2011 - AFL grand final day - that the 20-year-old lost his life after the car he was a passenger in left the road and crashed.

His boss, the driver at the time and his work colleague, who Dean had given the front seat to, survived the incident.

The trio had been at a pub in a remote town watching Dean's beloved team Collingwood take on Geelong, before driving back to work.

Following a police investigation the driver was charged with two counts of dangerous driving and will face court at a later date.

For Ms Ellen and her family their life will never be the same, but things are particularly hard around this time of year.

"There is no such thing as ever getting back to normal," she said.

"Grand final day, it doesn't matter who is playing, will always be difficult. The ache inside never goes away, but birthdays and anniversaries seem to bring it to the surface more.

"(On the one-year anniversary) We went to the cemetery and took some fresh flowers up there and had a little chat to him. I found myself on the anniversary every minute thinking a year ago he would have still been alive and then when the time came, that was hard."

Ms Ellen said she can't prevent a tragedy like this happening to another family, but hopes by talking about it people will think about making better decisions when they get behind the wheel.

"What else can I do now but warn others of the choices they make," she said.

"I would love to see some of the people responsible for making bad choices and causing the death speaking on the TAC ads and pages saying 'Look at what I did because I chose to drink and drive, or speed, or I was tired and still chose to drive and fell asleep.'

"Distraction and concentration are another big reason for crashes, there are lots of them but speed and alcohol are the two easiest to eliminate. We can't predict a kangaroo jumping out or a tree falling in front of you, but speeding and drink driving we can make choices about."

Ms Ellen still struggles to come to grips with her son's decision to get into the vehicle with a driver that had been drinking and said that he was normally the one that made sensible decisions.

She said her family and Stawell friends remember Dean as a loyal mate, who was funny and always had a good attitude.

"He would always say that he was living 11 out of 10 and how many 20-year-olds can say that?" she said.

"He had fallen in love and was living in Western Australia for only seven months when this happened and he thought he was living the dream.

"He knew right from wrong, but I guess his biggest mistake was getting in that vehicle."

A trial date for the driver of the vehicle will be determined on December 7 and Ms Ellen said she will fly to Perth for the hearing.

She encouraged any parent that had experienced the loss of a child to road trauma to call the Wimmera-based Compassionate Friends Bereaved Parents Support Group on 5382 4724.

Dean Ellen, who lost his life in a car crash in Western Australia just over 12 months ago.

Dean Ellen, who lost his life in a car crash in Western Australia just over 12 months ago.


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