My name is Michelle McLaughlin and my son Thomas passed away January 6th, 2014 aged 4.

"My family and I were on a beach holiday when the unthinkable happened. I was changing our youngest child Hugh into his swimming gear whilst my husband and Sophie (our eldest child at 7 years old) were collecting the towels and surfboards for the beach. Our grandparents had arrived, and all the kids were excited to see them.

Whilst we were all getting ready, Tom’s grandfather was at the front of the property, waiting for us with Tom. Tom took two sudden steps, which meant he was just out of arms reach from his grandfather, and as a result he was hit by a 4WD traveling at 50 kms. Despite our frantic attempts to resuscitate him, while waiting for emergency services to arrive, he died at the scene.

The utter devastation and shock we felt was unbearable. We didn’t want it to be true that our Tom was gone. Tom had been so road conscious at our home, never failing to hold my hand and he would make me stop at every driveway on our walk to preschool to ensure that I double checked a car wasn’t reversing. I could not comprehend Tom’s death to road trauma. In the weeks after the accident, I struggled very hard to find meaning and purpose in the future.

The intensity of the pain I felt was so great in my heart and mind that there were not really any words, to this day, that are adequate enough to describe it.

I remain traumatised from the accident and seeing what occurred to my precious son. This trauma is something that my whole family has had to learn to carry and it has had a great impact on all our mental health.

I have never felt a sense of true peace since January 6, 2014. My physical health has also been greatly impacted over the past 5 years. My husband and I hold a great responsibility in moving our family forward. Trauma and the death of a child can split families apart and leads to a high divorce rate. We’ve both worked hard to ensure we attend counselling as often as possible.

My fondest memory of Thomas was when I gave birth to our youngest son Hugh. Tom was so excited about Hugh’s arrival and hoped for a baby brother. He called him “his baby”. Tom never left Hugh’s side. He really was a proud and adoring big brother. Sadly, this happiness was to last just one year. 

The hardest moments would have to be seeing my children Sophie and Hugh reach a special milestone, and wishing Tom was there to see it. I wish Tom had the chance to live and have his own special milestones. My husband and I think of Tom every single day and it hurts us so deeply that he is not here with us.

Life can change in a millisecond. Road trauma kills 1200-1300 Australians a year. Whether you leave your house on foot, bike or by car, people need to understand that their behaviour may affect themselves and others. We are all road users and we must act responsibility at all times.

I have since created the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation to help educate young children on road safety. Tom is the great inspiration behind my work. We believe that he is still able to achieve some good in this world through his legacy. Parents and guardians please take note, hold your children's hands and always watch them on the roads, because if you don’t, you may never have a truly peaceful or carefree day again in your life. All it takes is that millisecond."

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Road trauma is a serious issue in Australia that impacts thousands of individuals, families and communities every year. What can you do to play your part in reducing the toll on our community? 

Our sincere thanks to Michelle for telling her story and for all she does through the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation.