Hervey Bay police officer Constable Chris Paschedag.
Hervey Bay police officer Constable Chris Paschedag. Contributed

ROAD FATALITIES: 'It sticks with me'

A TINY body smashing through the windscreen of a car and slamming into the road.

It's a sight horrific enough to cause life-long trauma for anyone who witnesses it.

For Hervey Bay police officer Constable Chris Paschedag,  it became the inspiration behind his career.

Cnst Paschedag knows how devastating fatal crashes can be - primarily for the victims and their families but also for first responders and emergency crews.

After a horror month on Queensland roads, including a crash that claimed the lives of four Hervey Bay siblings and their mother, he has renewed calls for drivers to take care on the roads.

He has seen family holidays destroyed because basic mechanical checks weren't carried out.

He has witnessed the carnage of plenty of fatal and near-fatal crashes and delivered the heartbreaking message that a loved one has died more than once.

But it is that first crash, when he witnessed a child aged four or five, fly from his seat onto the bitumen, that has stuck with him through the years.

Cnst Paschedag was just a child himself when the crash happened just outside his family home.

Remarkably, he says, the victim of that crash was one of the lucky ones, walking away with relatively minor injuries.

"He was in shock - complaining about getting blood on his new shoes more than anything," Cnst Paschedag said.

"It sticks with me now that I'm a police officer."

Cnst Paschedag knows all too well not everyone will walk away from the scene of a horror crash, complaining only about some blood on their shoes.

But while being at the scene of a crash can be heartbreaking, he says what comes afterwards is often the hardest part.

"Personally, what I find most difficult is dealing with families after," he said.

The terrible task of having to tell families their loved ones won't be coming home too often falls on the shoulders of police officers.

These days, Cnst Paschedag can only hope he gets there before the family finds out via social media.

But having to talk to families who have no idea what is coming is far from easy.

"It's not an easy message to give or an easy message to get," he said.

"The main thing is making sure they have appropriate support."

As for that first horror crash, Cnst Paschedag says it motivates him to stay safe every time he gets behind the wheel of a car.

While spreading the message of road safety can at times be frustrating, with repeated messages seemingly not getting through, he said it was vital.

"I remain optimistic," he said.

"Everyone has the capacity to drive safely.

"The objective should be to get there safe at the end of the drive - slow down and survive the drive."


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