News

Mum shares heartbreaking story in plea for road safety

Cory Whitmore and Rachel Purdy.
Cory Whitmore and Rachel Purdy.

SIX years ago, mum Kathy Whitmore never thought she'd find herself pleading for driver awareness.

"It's not until it happens to you, that you even become aware of the tragedies and heartaches associated with road crashes," the bereaved mum-of-two told The Gympie Times.

Kathy's only son Cory was killed in a tragic quadruple fatality on the Bruce Hwy on September 4, 2008. Following a horror spate of deaths on Gympie region roads in recent weeks, Kathy has shared her story to urge our region's motorists to drive to arrive.

"Life as we knew it was changed forever," Kathy said of that fateful Thursday six years ago.

Kathy not only lost her 29-year-old happy-go-lucky son but she also lost daughter-in-law Rachel Purdy, 31, who was pregnant.

Cory, Rachel and their unborn child were killed when their Ford Falcon was hit a pantech truck and burst into flames, causing immediate death by incineration on the wet highway at Kybong. The driver of the truck, Mark Hamilton, 44, was also killed.

"We awoke to thunder, rain and more rain," Kathy said.

"One of those days that you just don't want to be on the roads."

However, that day Cory, an accomplished boxer, headed to a specialist appointment at Gympie Hospital for a snapped Achilles tendon. Rachel drove.

"Drive carefully. Love you. Let me know how you go.

"These were the last words I was ever to say to my son, and they will ring in my ears until the day I die."

It was 12.45pm and Kathy and her husband Warren were digging a trench to keep flooding from their home when Rachel's sister Belinda called asking if they had heard from the couple.

Belinda heard of a crash on the Bruce wanted to warn the couple.

Soon after they learned the gut-wrenching truth.

"It's them"- words Kathy will never forget.

On hearing the news every parent prays never to receive Kathy and Warren collapsed, still at the trench, oblivious to the rain pelting down on them.

"We then had the task of telling our daughter Kirsty that her brother and soul mate had died.

"To this day I still can't remember what I said, but I do have a distinct memory imbedded into my soul of the sheer devastation I heard from the other end of the phone.

"Then we had to call our son-in-law Chad to give him the tragic news, which he then had the enormous task of telling our grandchildren, Taylor and Logan.

"All I could think about is that I wanted to see my son, to hug him and kiss him ...I never did get to say goodbye to my precious son.

"I keep saying it was so horrific that no young person should ever have to die the way my son and his family did.

"A whole family with all their hopes and dreams taken away in a heartbeat."

There was little comfort from the intense six -day inquest into the tragic crash 18 months later. The nearest thing to anything remotely comforting was the clearing of Rachel from any wrong-doing.

"Unfortunately, Cory and Rachel were the innocent victims of drivers not driving to the conditions of the road and weather at the time.

"Driving too close to the vehicle in front of you can have catastrophic endings as this proved on this tragic day."

Kathy said the coroner told her family the crash that took her family would have been instantaneous and that Cory and Rachel would not have felt a thing.

"I suppose it was said to give us some comfort, but how can you find comfort in the death of your child?

"I still cry most days and my mind runs with what could have been and what should have been and torments me with pictures of their tragic ending.

"I hope that hearing my story today has made you all think twice to make better choices before you get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

"Don't think that 'oh, that was a sad story and that this won't happen to me'. Well, it can; it happened to my son and his family.

"When you leave your house of a day, you never know if you are going to come home again."

A memorial in Cory, Rachel and their baby's can still be seen by drivers as they pass what was once the scene of utter tragedy.

Remember them when you get behind the wheel, and drive to arrive.

Gympie Times

Topics:  bruce highway editors picks



Don’t go chasing waterfalls…find them on these drives!

BRISBANE isn’t all bright lights and city slickers.

Science Festival seriously awesome

Don't miss the World Science Festival Brisbane!

CALLING everyone who wants to see something totally cool.

Drink where the cool kids do this summer

There are a bunch of new bars open in Brisbane, make sure you're there!

CHECK out these new funky bars.

Discover Brisbane’s laneway gems

Brisbane's laneways will surprise you.

NOT all of Brisbane City is as it seems…

Top five things to experience this summer in Brisbane

Tangalooma is amazing if you're keen for a dive, kayak or swim.

THIS summer get out and explore your capital city.

Your boots are made for walking these tours

Brisbane Greeters tours are a great way to learn the local history of the city.

YOU don’t need a bike or bus for a seriously good tour of Brisbane.

Is Brisbane the new arts and culture capital?

Check out GOMA's latest exhibition - it's all about hair! GOMA 10 Ambassador Patience Hodgson visits Nervescape V 2016 by Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir (aka Shoplifter), commissioned for ‘Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything’ at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. 
Photograph: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA

THE rest of the world should be envious of this line-up!

Kandanga butcher named third best snags in Australia

PRIZE PORK: Mitch Perkins from Kandanga Meats won third prize in the National Sausage King competition.

Mitch Perkins wants his pork sausages to win next year.

Ex-Gympie man's new TV scandal

court generic

Ex-Gympie man believed involved in new Seven network harassment row

What's on this weekend in Gympie's gigs?

Brad Rodgers.

Check out what's happening in the region this weekend.

Local Partners

Gympie gallery to mark birthday

The Gympie Regional Gallery Twilight Suitcase Market will include the Gallery's 19th birthday celebration with cake.


What's on this weekend in Gympie's gigs?

Brad Rodgers.

Check out what's happening in the region this weekend.

Gympie 'movement' gets connected at The Pavilion

Gympie Family History Society's Di Woodstock is a co-ordinator of the Connecting the Community event at The Pavilion this Saturday.

Community gets connected on the Gympie Southside

Sir Elton John coming to Mackay: What you need to know

Sir Elton will come to Mackay and Cairns in September.

Tickets to the concert go on sale on March 14

Near-million dollar park for Rainbow Beach

Playground to feature flying fox, giant basket swing, pirate ship slide

Novel with lots of heart

The romance in A Quiet Kind of Thunder was only one of the joys of the book.

Book proves to be a gem with layers

What's on this weekend in Gympie's gigs?

Brad Rodgers.

Check out what's happening in the region this weekend.

Gympie gallery to mark birthday

MARKETING: Come and meet Arkin Mackay (left) with her Do Rags and Caedmon Johnson (right) with his Gecko Skin Jewellery at the Suitcase Market on Saturday, March 4.

Celebration starts with Suitcase Market and cake

Bliss N Eso announce tribute show for stuntman

Bliss N Eso will play a tribute show at Coolangatta in honour of Johann Ofner. The stuntman died during the filming of the group's Friend Like You film clip earlier this year.

BLISS N Eso to play tribute show to raise funds for killed stuntman

MOVIE REVIEW: Trainspotting sequel as good as original

Ewen Bremner in a scene from the movie T2: Trainspotting.

Director Danny Boyle proves sequels can be done well.

How Karl Stefanovic's wife, kids found out about girlfriend

Karl Stefanovic and Jasmine Yarbrough after their day on Sydney Harbour. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Pictures splashed across tabloid were shock to family

Submarine, buses and 3000 tyres removed in $100K clean up

The list of things removed from this property is beyond astonishing

Popular island resort sells to loaded international investor

OUR PICK: Chris Foey's colourful shot of one of Gladstone's great tourism hot spots, Heron Island.

International investor snaps up piece of Gladstone paradise.

Expert: Why renters, home buyers may struggle

Matusik Property Insights director Michael Matusik.

What's next for the city's housing market

Massive seaside development of 3200 lots

DESIRABLE LIFESTYLE: The masterplan for the proposed Elliott Heads Estate.

"There's nothing else left along the coastline of Queensland now"

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!