Black ice warning after family's heartbreak

HEARTACHE: Matt and Kelly Kurz want to raise awareness of black ice after the death of their daughter Tori in 2013. Photo: Adam Trafford.

HEARTACHE: Matt and Kelly Kurz want to raise awareness of black ice after the death of their daughter Tori in 2013. Photo: Adam Trafford.

NEARLY a year on from the horrific crash that killed their 20-year-old daughter, Matt and Kelly Kurz are still living a nightmare.

The family, who have struggled to cope with their harrowing grief, have spoken out to raise awareness of the dangers of black ice and encourage young drivers to be alert on the roads.

Black ice was considered a factor in the crash that killed Tori Kurz on the morning of July 9, 2013, and continues to pose a major threat to motorists, particularly during winter months.

It followed a spate of crashes around the Ballarat region in the week prior, where black ice was involved. 

Kelly said while Tori had two years of driving experience and felt confident behind the wheel, she would not have known about black ice.

"I hadn't heard of it myself until I read about it in the paper a week before Tori's crash. She wouldn't have known anything of it, she was 20-years-old," she said.

Tori had been out feeding lambs with friends the night before, near Creswick.

She was travelling home to Ballarat on the Midland Highway at Sulky when the crash occurred at 8.15am.

Tori Kurz. Photo: Supplied.

Tori Kurz. Photo: Supplied.

Her car lost control in the overtaking lanes, crossing into the north-bound lane and struck an oncoming four-wheel-drive.

Tori died at the scene.

The driver of the 4WD, a Ballarat man, was airlifted to Melbourne with non life-threatening injuries. 

For the Kurz family, that morning plays over in their minds as a daily reminder of her life ahead, cut tragically short.

Tori would have celebrated her 21st birthday in March and was to marry her childhood sweetheart Anthony Blamey in November.

"No other family should have to go through what we've had to go through." - Kelly Kurz

"She had so much ahead of her; she worked three jobs so she and Anthony could set themselves up," Kelly said.

Tori's brother Bodhi recently turned 18 and is hesitant to get his licence after the crash, until he becomes more confident.

Matt Kurz said it reinforced the importance of learners driving in all conditions when doing their 120 hours behind the wheel.

Black ice can form on any road and be extremely hazardous for motorists because it is invisible.

VicRoads regional director Ewen Nevett said there were ice warning systems on the Midland Highway between Blampied and Dayesford and the Western Freeway between Wallace and Gordon, known areas for black ice.

The systems use sensors to detect conditions conducive to black ice on the road, automatically activating amber flashing signs.

They advise motorists to slow to 40 km/h and can be activated remotely by VicRoads when advised by the public of black ice forming in surrounding areas.

"There are eight ice warning signs with flashing amber lights and an advisory speed limit on the Midland Highway and four on the Western Freeway location," Mr Nevett said.

The Kurz family recently launched a petition, which will be eventually presented to VicRoads in the hope a warning system can be installed at Sulky.

"We'd like to see something to alert people and for parents to talk to their kids about black ice," Kelly said.

"No other family should have to go through what we've been through."

Black ice: The facts

►Black ice is invisible and can form on any road, particularly during severe frosts

►It occurs in freezing temperatures when heavy dew, rain or pooled water is on the road

►Freeway overpasses, bridges, low lying and shady areas are particularly prone

►Motorists should stick to the left lane and slow to a safe speed of 40 km/h

►Allow plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you - sometimes in poor conditions drivers can brake suddenly and in wet conditions, you will take longer to stop

►If you hit a patch of black ice, don't pull sharply at the steering wheel or slam on the brakes. Use the engine rather than brakes to slow the car

Report any road hazards, including black ice, to VicRoads on 13 11 70 

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