Brad Garard.
Brad Garard.

One fatal mistake leads to death

LESLEY Carlson is living every mother’s worst nightmare.

Her 19-year-old son Brad Garard was killed in his car on Sunday when he pulled out of Matilda service station south of Gympie into the path of a passing truck.

It was a “split-second” error of judgement that cost the Coles Creek teenager his life, but it should never have happened, Mrs Carlson said yesterday.

“My sister-in-law has always said she feared that Matilda would get one of us. Something needs to be done to make that intersection safer. If it takes Brad getting killed to change it then at least that’s something positive we can take from this.”

“Otherwise it’s pretty senseless,” Lesley’s husband John added and called for the service station’s north-bound entry to be moved further south to reduce the streams of traffic passing through the intersection.

Related: Call to move blind turn-off

“I KNOW Bradley made a fatal error — I’ve nearly made it myself a number of times,” Lesley Carlson said.

“He wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last. Yes he was on his P-plates, and I’ve heard what people say about them, but I can absolutely assure everybody that Bradley was not that person. He wasn’t a hoon or a drinker, he was a safe driver.”

“We called him Grandad ’cause that’s how he drove,” John said, holding back the tears for his step-son.

“He was on his way to work (on a nearby dairy farm). He’d done the morning shift, came home and had a sleep... I think he went to get petrol.

“Police told us he was sitting there at the intersection and couldn’t see the truck tucked in behind the turning bus.

“We know it’s not the truck driver’s fault and we are really happy he didn’t get hurt.”

Mr and Mrs Carlson came across the accident on their way home from a trip into Gympie on Sunday afternoon. They had been sitting in a park eating pizza at around 2pm when the sirens started wailing and Mrs Carlson recalled having a feeling they were for Brad.

“While I was eating I had a strong feeling it was going to be the last lunch I enjoyed for a while. I knew it was Brad,” she said.

As they passed by the scene of the crash — as they had done many times before due to living near the worst stretch of the Bruce Highway — they noticed Brad’s white crumpled car and the red P-plate. To say they were devastated is an understatement.

“Everybody’s worried about me but from my experience in the States I know there are worst ways to lose a child,” Mrs Carlson said about a frightening experience she had in 2007.

Mrs Carlson was an exchange student at Virginia Tech university in America when more than 30 people were killed in a shooting rampage.

“I draw strength from what went on over at the States. My heart feels like it has been shattered into a million pieces but in the short time I had Bradley he filled me up with his love.

“As sad as it is, he is the only person in my life that could have gone without leaving behind any unresolved issues. He was a beautiful, happy person.”

That fateful Sunday, Mrs Carlson kissed her son goodbye, told him she loved him and asked him to be careful.

“Years ago when we were young drivers there was margin for error. Now with the amount of traffic on the road, a split-second mistake can be fatal. This is a small town and we all know someone or know of someone who has been killed on this stretch of the highway.

“Everybody’s got a story.”

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