My name is Martin Wrangle and this is my story
On Saturday 9 October 2004 my son Trevor was killed in a single vehicle collision. Trevor was speeding and died at the side of the road with a stranger providing comfort.
I’d received the phone call that every parent dreads.
Every day we hear about the number of people killed on our roads never imagining that one day your loved one would be included in that statistic. This kind of thing only happens to other people’s children; to hoons, to drink or drug affected drivers. Not my son. Not my Trevor.
Who was Trevor Wrangle?
Trevor was just three months short of his 20th birthday. He was bright and had a great sense of humour. He was hard working with a future that offered so much.
Trevor had just completed a landscape gardening apprenticeship in Mornington. He was very good at his chosen career and delighted in showing me, as he put it, his “battle scars”; blisters on his hands that made me happy to be in the painting industry.
The week after his death he would have been presented with his papers of trade qualification.
Trevor loved to drive his car. He had clocked up countless hours prior to obtaining his Ps, and in the 18 months he had held a license he had driven many, many kilometres. Trevor also drove bob cats, back hoes and other machinery related to his job.
Trevor owned a trail bike that he used to ride out in the bush and I was always concerned about him riding the bike but never about driving his car. Trevor was, I felt, a very level headed driver and I had no problems sitting in the passenger seat whilst he drove. I never sat there “hanging on for grim death” when he was driving.
Trevor lived with his mother, younger sister and brother in Karingal near Frankston and at 5am that Saturday had stopped at the local 24 hour petrol station to buy a recharge card for his mobile phone.
For some unknown reason instead of turning left into Skye Road to go home half a kilometre away he drove straight ahead. We will never why he did this.
We do know that about two kilometres down McClelland Drive Trevor missed a sweeping right hand bend, drove over a patch of grass and rolled several times end to end before slamming into a gum tree. The driver’s door was ripped off in the impact.
There is no doubt that Trevor was speeding.
A man who lived close to where the accident occurred, went to bed on the Friday evening not knowing that the next day he would pull a young blonde haired boy from the wreck of a car and try to comfort him while he took his last breath. I feel for the man who probably looks over his back fence at what was once a beautiful gum tree as I believe those memories will live with him forever.
I still think of Trevor at the crash scene dying with this kind stranger by his side. But not the two people in the world who loved him the most, his Mum and Dad. Losing a child is a life changing event; nothing is EVER the same again. That evening by chance I met one of Trevor’s sixth grade teachers. I informed him of Trevor’s death and that we had attended his funeral that day. He told me he would have attended had he known. Trevor was the seventh past student to be killed that year in a car crash. It was only October. Every person I have spoken to who has lost a child to road trauma says that it is life changing AND IT IS.
I was involved in a TAC commercial’ Pictures of You’ with nine other families. After the filming we all attended a special viewing prior to it being shown on television. I was in a room full of people who like me had lost a loved one to road trauma. I spoke to a father who had lost his son in a car accident involving speed 10 years earlier and was still traumatised by the loss. His son had been about Trevor’s age. As I walked away from him I said to my wife “if that is how I will still feel in six years time – there is not much to look forward to is there?”.
I spoke to a woman whose husband was killed over 20 years ago – she still openly weeps for him. The pain and heartache always remains. On 9th October 2004 the death of Trevor changed my life forever. I now cry openly. I have times of reflection. I have “what if” times.
Six months after Trevor’s death I quit my job and now work for myself. My outlook on life is totally different, my priorities have changed. The ripple effect is amazing; Trevor’s death affected hundreds of people both directly and indirectly. My youngest son is now driving and it scares the hell out of me.
At times I have to walk out of the room when the news comes on and reports on a road trauma, knowing that yet another family has been “touched by the road toll” and their living nightmare has just begun. In many ways that’s what it is. It never goes away, never ever.
I see speeding drivers and my heart misses a beat. If only they knew what they were putting at risk.
As a father I was proud of Trevor and had great hopes that maybe one day Trevor would start his own business. He was an excellent landscape gardener. I of course had dreams of him getting married, giving me the pleasure of grandchildren and watching him grow and develop into a man in his 20s, and 30s, and beyond. I will never be able to discuss his future, perhaps helping him with his career or buying a home – helping him as dad’s do. I feel robbed and I feel cheated, because after 19 years of nurturing Trevor through his childhood and teenage years, it was destroyed in a split second. Trevor had the makings of a fine young man.
His boss had invested a lot of time and money in him. Gary had had the task of making a great landscape gardener of Trevor, teaching him all the skills and work ethics to last him a lifetime. Gary had succeeded as a boss. Trevor let Gary down. Let’s not forget how his sister and brother have been affected by his death along with his grandparents, aunts, uncles and mates. Trevor let many people down in a split second of stupidity.
The story I have shared is firmly implanted in my brain. I don’t need to try and remember the events of Saturday 9 October 2004. It is as though it occurred only yesterday.
Trevor Alan Wrangle.
I MISS MY SON.
A road death makes today’s news but tomorrow it is just a memory for most people. For the family and friends involved their living nightmare has just begun.
Martin Wrangle has been involved with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria as a volunteer speaker since 2008. He tells his story to offenders, community groups and speaks with the media in the hope that his experience can save lives.