By John Maher
On Monday 7th August, I brought Carmen’s Road Safety message to 200, year 11 students at St Pat’s College and immediately following, 300 years 11 and 12 students at Damascus College Ballarat.
When you add these 500 students to the 700 students who heard Carmen’s story at the Regent Cinemas in Ballarat on Friday 12th May, the community of Ballarat can look forward to a safer Ballarat as these young people become the leaders in this area amongst their friends and family.
My name is John Maher and I am passionate about road safety and am driven to bring safe road use to the Ballarat community, my community. I bring Carmen’s Road Safety message into the lives of students at 80 secondary colleges in Victoria and QLD, plus many corporate events, every year.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon when my working life was taken from me in the most violent of ways, thankfully, the crash wasn’t my fault. At that time, I didn’t know that I was about to face years of rehabilitation and counselling.
Four months after the crash doctors told me that due to the seriousness and nature of my injuries I would never work again. And so, began the long road to recovery, and it was one that was underpinned with a determination to get my life back.
Just 30-months after my car crash, on a beautiful Saturday morning, our family was dealt the cruelest of blows when the youngest of my four daughters Carmen (age 18), fell asleep at the wheel and was killed.
the youngest of my four daughters fell asleep at the wheel and was killed
Michelle got ready for work and was on her way into work when she came upon a car crash. Tragically, that car crash was her sisters. While driving home after dropping her best friend off at her work, Carmen, went to sleep at the wheel and crashed into a tree and was killed instantly.
Michelle was the third car on the horrific scene. Thankfully, a Police officer was first to the crash and he could comfort Michelle. Importantly, he stopped Michelle from going to her sister although she so desperately wanted to.
Ange, Jasmine and I were surprised to see a Police car drive in our driveway that morning, and when I asked the young Police officer if I could help him, he burst into tears and informed me that Carmen had been involved in a car accident and she was gone. I didn’t understand what he meant until Michelle got out of the back seat of the police car and said the words that none of us can ever forget.
Dad, Carmen’s dead!
This is the worst day in the life of a family, and nothing can adequately describe the feeling of loss, sadness, or despair, but it is the complete feeling of hopelessness that engulfs everyone because there is nothing that can be done, it’s over, it’s hopeless.
I’ll never forget the phone call I had to make to our second eldest daughter Katrina, who was working in Sydney. I’ll never forget how I broke my mum’s heart when I telephoned her. We broke so many hearts with the news of Carmen’s death that day and many of us are destined to never recover because we have lost Carmen.
I will never forget how everyone comforted each other through the tears, I’ll never forget the hundreds of phone calls we had to make and receive, the look of disbelief and sadness on the faces of everyone who came to our home, the amazing support of everyone throughout this time of such darkness.
Sadly, our family is not unique as this has happened to far too many families in the past, and it will happen to far too many families in the future and we must stop this devastation.
In death, Carmen gave me my life back, she gave me a purpose, and over the past 19 years, 200,000 students have heard Carmen’s true-life story. Every year, 14,000 students from 80 Secondary schools around Australia are empowered to be safer road users and they understand what they will do to their family should they lose their life on our deadly roads.
In death, Carmen gave me my life back
I know what I miss the most about Carmen… ‘I can’t give Carmen a cuddle’. I put myself through the trauma of telling Carmen’s story in the hope that no other family should be forced to live the life that our family lives… a life without a loved one because they have died in a car crash.
My true-life story is in high demand by corporate Australia, especially those businesses that are concerned for the safety of their employees. That concern is warranted because most employees use the roads to get to work and it is critical that they get home safely to their family every day.
Carmen’s Road Safety presentation is confronting and personal, it’s thought provoking and factual, and unfortunately for us, it is true.
- Nominated for the National Australia Day Council 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017, ‘Australian of the Year’
- 2014 winner ‘Victorian Regional Achievement & Community Awards’ – SAFETY category
- 2015 winner ‘Ballarat Community Safety Award’ – Road Safety
- 2015 named CommBank ‘Australian of the Day’ 4th December 2015
I’m so fortunate that Carmen is still in my life as I tell her story, and it has taken me around the world. The next chapter has me excited because I have written a book, and it has taken me 16 years. It’s about our journey, and once again it has kept Carmen in my life as I struggled to put those terrible memories of losing Carmen into the written word. It’s in the editor’s hands and I hope to launch ‘Carmen’s Legacy’ on 18th November 2017, the 22nd anniversary of Carmen’s death.
John Maher, Carmen Road Safety
John is a keynote inspirational speaker, suitable for:
- Secondary school years 10, 11 and 12 students
- Insurance – “risk” insurance with a focus on Income Protection
- Dealer Groups – PD days
- Banks – turn customers into clients through “risk” protection
- Finance – Secure your customers “risk”
- Real Estate – protect your client, don’t let them lose their home
- Seminars – PD Days
- Client Seminars
- Family – How a family survived through love and determination
- Sport – Taking your opportunity without risk
For more information contact