Christmas Day forever ruined for crash survivors
CHRISTMAS will never be the same for Laurie Tritton.
After exchanging gifts on December 25, 2017, Laurie, his wife Karin and their two daughters Makayla and Tarmeka were headed for a family lunch in Brisbane's east when their car was struck head-on by an ice-fuelled driver.
The last thing Laurie remembers was Karin, 56, asking if everyone was OK and seeing 18-year-old Makayla's unconscious body in the back seat.
The pair died soon after. Laurie, 55, and Tarmeka, 23, were seriously injured.
In a sickening twist, the driver who killed them, Mark Veneris, could be out of prison for Christmas 2021.
Last month, Veneris was sentenced to a minimum of three-and-a-half years jail.
At the time of the crash, Veneris was doing about 100km/h in a 70km/h zone when he lost control and jumped a traffic island, ploughing into the Trittons' vehicle.
When Veneris was pulled from the wreck, a firefighter noticed an ice pipe on the front passenger seat of his car that was still hot.
Holding back tears, Laurie spoke for the first time this week exclusively to the Sunday Mail, about the pain that Veneris' jail term has caused his family.
The Opposition will today also call for that sentence to be appealed by the Attorney-General.
"Karin said - as we were going over the Gateway (Bridge) - 'only 15 minutes and we'll be there'. We never got there," Laurie said.
"I woke up after the accident and Karin said a couple of words. I didn't realise we'd been in an accident.
"From what Tarmeka said, Karin asked 'is everyone all right?"
Laurie said he was asleep at the time of impact and he wonders if that saved his life.
"When I woke up from the accident I looked back and Makayla was in the same position asleep - she looked asleep - and she didn't have a mark on her body," he said.
"It might have saved my life (being asleep), I don't know."
When he woke in hospital hours later, Laurie said he was "black and blue from hip to hip".
He suffered a chipped sternum and a perforated bowel. Tarmeka had a collapsed lung and needed a screw in her ankle.
First responders at the scene were visibly shaken, it was said at the time. Some even cried.
One senior police officer said the scene would stay with them "forever and a day".
While the crash has brought Laurie and his surviving daughter Tarmeka closer together, it has ruined Christmas for them and their extended family.
"I don't even look forward to Christmas anymore. It's just a day that we mourn," Laurie said.
Last year, family members laid flowers at Karin and Makayla's graves. No gifts were exchanged.
"People have said to me 'would you want to kill him (Veneris)?' And I think 'well, that's letting him off too easy isn't it?'" Laurie said.
"At least if he does his time in jail he might be remorseful.
"Veneris should have got a life sentence, because we got a life sentence."
Opposition justice spokesman David Janetzki has been campaigning for tougher driving laws and is leading the push for Veneris' sentence to be appealed.
"Any driver who gets behind the wheel with drugs in their system should face the full force of the law," Mr Janetzki said.
"I have written to the Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath to lodge an appeal against the horrific 2017 Christmas Day case."
Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath has until August 26 to appeal the sentence.
"Veneris should have got a life sentence, because we got a life sentence," Laurie said.
"People have said to me 'would you want to kill him?' And I think 'well, that's letting him off too easy isn't it?' At least if he does his time in jail he might be remorseful."