When 18-year-old Jacob Everett’s four-wheel-drive ran off the road and struck a tree the apprentice boilermaker was not speeding, alcohol affected or on drugs. He was just tired.
Jacob’s car struck a tree along the Avenue of Honour at around 80 km/h. He died instantly.
His grief-stricken mother Helen is backing City of Ballarat Councillor Daniel Moloney’s call for a VicRoads report into the stretch of road that has claimed many lives. That call was unanimously supported by councillors with Cr Des Hudson calling for it to be delivered to the city’s road safety council.
Mrs Everett believes the installation of roadside barriers along Remembrance Drive will save lives.
“If Jacob had been speeding, or drinking or on drugs I wouldn’t go public with this. But he was doing the right thing,” Helen said through tears.
“To lose an 18-year-old son … who had a whole future ahead of him … you can’t imagine.”
VicRoads data shows two people have been killed and four people seriously injured on this stretch of road over the five years up to December 31, 2016.
Ballarat Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant Pat Cleary said the stretch of road was an area of high trauma that police regularly patrolled.
“The proximity of the trees to the carriageway leave no room for error,” Senior Sergeant Cleary said.
“When driving (in this area) motorists must be aware of their surroundings and drive within the legal limitations. Drivers must pay attention when driving along this stretch.”
The Arch of Victory and Avenue of Honour committee has repeatedly called for the speed along the entire stretch of road to be cut to 80 km/h.
However, President Bruce Price said the installation of wire rope barriers would not be supported by the group due to the significance of the trees which honour war veterans.
Mrs Everett questioned whether lowering the speed would be enough.
“Robert (her husband’s) relative died in war. But you have to question whether these soldiers would want the trees that honour them to claim another person’s life,” Mrs Everett said. “People are human, they make mistakes.”
Mrs Everett, Mr Everett and their sons Zac and Hamish miss outgoing Jacob everyday. His roadside memorial, decorated with messages from friends and bouquets of flowers, is devastatingly close to another tribute.
The former St Patrick’s College student had plans, hopes and dreams for his life – all which now will never happen.
“’We just want barriers to make it safer,” Zac said.