Mum’s plea for drivers to give way to vulnerable school children

A Currimundi mother of two is calling for the driver who hit her daughter and knocked her off her scooter while riding home from school on a footpath, to be charged and fined for negligent driving.

Hope O’Rourke was just nine when the car’s front and back wheels crushed her right leg. The driver failed to give way while exiting an Erang Street carpark on 26 July 2018. Now 12, Hope has difficulty participating in school sport activities, suffers anxiety, nerve damage and ongoing pain in her leg.

The family has launched a CTP claim against the driver’s insurer Allianz in the Brisbane Supreme Court, with help from Slater and Gordon Lawyers. Her mother Briony Fahey said she wonders what life would be like for Hope if the driver had slowed down, looked out and given way that day.

“The driver only stopped several hundred metres away after someone yelled out to them demanding she stop as she had just hit someone. Seeing my little girl lying motionless on the road was one of the worst moments of my life,” Ms Fahey said.

“We are hoping to finally see some justice and some compensation for Hope to begin her life with. I’d like to see the woman charged for what she did to my daughter. The accident will affect Hope for the rest of her life.”

Ms Fahey said Hope had lost a lot of her confidence and the accident had affected her school work and ability to concentrate.

“If we are at the shops she has to sit down because she’s in pain and the scar tingles. At least once a week she will ring me at school. Not all of her teachers know about the accident so we have had to tell each of them,” she said.

“In carparks she is often waiting such a long time to cross roads. She would wait until there are no cars and then cross. She gets embarrassed talking about the accident although she knows it was not her fault.”

Slater and Gordon Senior Associate Juliet Parsons said drivers needed to be vigilant and remember to give way when driving in and out of carparks and during school travel times.

“A great deal of accidents occur in carparks where there is a high volume of pedestrians and children on bikes and scooters coming and going. Drivers are often rushing and distracted while trying to exit. Drivers should always give way to children on footpaths, and should be especially cautious near schools during those important before and after school periods. They are vulnerable and have very little chance of coming out of an accident unscathed,” Ms Parsons said.

Ms Fahey said although signage had been installed reminding drivers to give way where Hope was hit, drivers who injured school children needed to face tougher penalties.

“Hope had to have two surgeries, including a major one 12 weeks after the accident. Her legs were still growing so that was an obvious concern for us,” she said.

“We are worried about how this injury and traumatic event will impact her future. It’s beyond belief the driver was not charged or fined and she essentially just drove away.”

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