Christmas can be one of the hardest times of year for those who have lost a loved one.
Murray Bridge residents John and Tricia Leahy lost their 18-year-old daughter in a tragic car accident on a July evening in 2010.
“It was a Monday night, I was on holidays and going away,” John said.
“She went to see a friend while she could, to catch up and watch a movie.”
Stephanie was driving to Mypolonga with a friend when she lost control on a corner and rolled her car into a tree.
She died instantly while her friend survived.
She had no alcohol or drugs in her system, it was simply an accident.
“We couldn’t understand it, we still can’t understand it,” John said.
The couple said they will always remember when the police knocked on their door.
“They said there has been an accident and the driver hasn’t survived – which was a bit unbelievable,” John said.
“I wouldn’t wish that for anyone, not my worst enemy.
“We never think we are the victims, we are just part of it; Steph is the victim, she’s missed out on everything,” he said.
“She’s missed out on her whole life,” Tricia said.
She said the couple were more protective of their children now, and always wanted to know where they were, when they were driving and when they had arrived.
John said he encouraged drivers to take care and treat driving seriously.
“It’s not a play thing, just make sure you get from A to B, it is hard enough on the roads as it is without adding other factors like speeding and drinking too,” he said.
“It can be sudden and it can be permanent.”
Tricia said people often got into the car and did not think about driving, especially at this time of year, when people were tired and just wanted to get to where they were going.
Since Stephanie’s accident, the Leahy family has done a lot of work with road safety, John is the ambassador representing Imperial Football Club for the Motor Accident Commission.
Each year, a football match between Imperials and Tailem Bend is dedicated to Stephanie and road safety, and in the more recent years, the match had also been dedicated to Molly Kneebone.
“It was first of all, the Leahy Cup, then unfortunately, it was the Leahy-Kneebone cup,” John said.
John hopes that by being an ambassador he can help save at least one life.
“Christmas is never the same when you’ve lost someone young,” he said.
“We still have a great Christmas and have a great life, but there’s always something missing and we are sure she would have loved to be here too.”