A grieving father has shared the unfathomable sadness his family has lived with following the sentencing of the driver who killed his son two years ago.
Nathaniel Merritt-Price was just 19-years-old when his life was cut short in a car crash on the Buninyong-Mercer Road outside of Ballarat on New Year’s Eve, 2015.
Gemma Sargent, 20, of Ballarat was sentenced to eight years in prison on Monday, November 6, for causing the death of Mr Merritt-Price.
Mr Merritt-Price’s father, Rodney Price, said while a weight had been lifted at the conclusion of the trial, the loss his family felt will never lessen.
“It doesn’t matter whether a person gets 20 years, eight years, five years or 40 years, it doesn’t change the fact that my son won’t be back,” he said.
“That part of the process is finished with but the continuation of constant sadness and heartbreak is with you 24 hours a day, even when you sleep it’s with you.
“People say to me, it’s time to move on Rodney and I say to them, you can’t move on from losing a child.”
During the trial, the court heard Sargent was driving with a learner’s permit and no fully licensed driver to supervise.
The court also heard Sargent was driving up to 180km/h and dangerously attempted to pass another speeding car when she lost control, flipping the car a number of times before landing in a nearby paddock.
Mr Merritt-Price was pronounced dead at the scene and another passenger was left with permanent brain injuries.
Mr Price said there is a vacant space in his family that everyone is sharply aware of, but hopes his son’s untimely death can serve as a lesson to others.
“There is a wider lesson to learn across the board and not just for young drivers but all drivers,” he said.
“It just takes a foolish decision and you can destroy not only your own life but so many lives; Nathaniel’s gone but it’s not just him, it’s his family, his friends, he won’t ever have kids or get married, there is a massive ripple effect.
“I don’t want anybody to go through this.”
He said he cannot grasp why people continue to engage in dangerous behavior behind the wheel.
“People are always getting pulled up for for dangerous driving despite all the evidence and all the lives lost; they continue to do it and I just don’t understand,” Mr Price said.
“There is no respect and they don’t deserve a license.
“If you are willing to put your own life and every one else in danger by speeding, driving drunk or doing stupid things, you shouldn’t have a license.
“It only takes a split second for something to go wrong.”
Our psyche was not designed to bury our children. I can’t put in words how I feel and and how we all feel, it’s an emotional cancer.Rodney Price
Since his son’s death, Mr Price has found an outlet in music with the support of friends and family helping him, his partner Sue, and their remaining two children through the healing process.
He is hopeful his son’s killer will learn from her time behind bars and hopes others take on board his experience before they get behind the wheel of their own cars.
“You learn to deal with it but you can never move on, I hope in time... I still feel very heartbroken and down.”
“At the end of the day the sentence is justice but it doesn't fix the problem, the heartache, it doesn’t fix anything, it just deals with the responsibility of the person who did this.”