EMOTIONAL tributes poured in yesterday for the Ipswich mother and her two children who were killed in a horrific car accident on Monday afternoon.
North Booval mother Margaret Halliwell – also known as Maggie – and two sons Timothy, 17, and Steven, 8, died in a head-on crash with a B-double about 10km east of Gatton on the Warrego Highway.
Students and staff at Ipswich East State School, where Steven was a Year Three student, were left shattered after hearing the news yesterday.
The school – where Timothy had completed his primary schooling and Margaret, 45, was involved with the P&C committee – carried a tribute to the family on its outdoor sign.
Principal Debbie Hansen said staff and students were offered counselling yesterday and would again today as the school struggled to deal with the unexpected deaths.
“Our thoughts go out to the family at this time – the family were very involved with the school community and were highly regarded,” she said.
“For the teachers and especially classmates of Steven this is a very hard time and we’ll be doing everything we can to provide support.”
She said the school was planning a memorial service for the family within the next fortnight, and a memorial wall would be erected at the school for students to write messages remembering Steven.
East Ipswich resident Kate Fittler, whose eight-year-old son William Taylor was a classmate and friend of Steven, said it was hard for the students to comprehend what happened.
“Maggie was friendly and the family just seemed to be really nice people,” she said.
Margaret and her sons were passengers in a red Commodore sedan heading east from Toowoomba to Ipswich that crossed on to the wrong side of the road and into a B-double about 2.17pm on Monday. Police are still investigating what caused the driver, Kimm Taylor, 46, to lose control of the vehicle.
Mr Taylor, the de-facto partner of Margaret, was flown to the Royal Brisbane Hospital on Monday afternoon and was released yesterday.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Gatton station officer Noel Einam said the accident was one of the worst he had seen in the area.
Neighbours paid tribute to the family yesterday, saying the three deaths would shatter the many families in the street who had children who played with Timothy and Steven.
One neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: “They were a great family and our thoughts go to the family and to Kimm; I can’t imagine what he would be going through.
“It’s hard to imagine they’re gone – I just keep looking over to the house and can’t believe what’s happened.
“I know a lot of people in the street who have kids who played with the two boys, and it’s been hard not only coming to grips with their passing but also how to tell their children.”
In wake of the tragic death, State Member for Lockyer Ian Rickuss asked the State Government in Parliament yesterday what it was doing to improve safety on that stretch of the highway.
He said during Question Time that the last management plan for the Warrego Highway lapsed in 2007 and that a new safety audit was required.
Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace said he would lobby Federal Government for more funding to improve the highway.
“My department will do the right thing; we will co-operate with the police in undertaking a safety audit where that particular accident occurred,” he said.
“We will continue to lobby the Federal Government for extra funding for that road and we will carry out those works identified as needed once investigations are completed by the police.”