‘My brother would have forgiven her’
SHANE Old would have forgiven the woman whose careless driving killed him. He was that type of person, his sister Shelly Vaughan said.
Mr Old was not a spiteful or angry man. He was a "gentle giant" who saw hatred as "a waste of energy".
Despite his death in a horrific car crash last September, Ms Vaughan welcomed the opportunity to come face-to-face with the woman who took her brother away from her, Oxenford State School teacher Leona Pauline Paraha.
After Paraha pleaded guilty in Childers Magistrates Court, Ms Vaughan walked over to her and hugged her. They cried together in a moment of shared grief.
"I don't know if I've forgiven, but I'm not angry with her because she didn't set out to do that," Ms Vaughan said.
"She wasn't drunk, she didn't do drugs, she didn't wake up with the intent of killing two people, and there's no winners. No one's a winners out of this. It's just a horrific accident - she fell asleep. And she has to live with that."
Mr Old was the forgotten victim of the tragedy last year, that also claimed the life of eight-year-old Gold Coast girl Olivia Douglas, who was on her way to a school netball carnival at the time.
Mr Old, 52, had just welcomed his new granddaughter into the world the day before he set out on a road trip to his acreage at Woodgate, south of Bundaberg.
After mowing the grass, he was headed home on the Bruce Highway near Childers about 1pm when Paraha drifted onto the wrong side of the road and into Mr Old's ute. There was nothing he could do.
"The weirdest thing happened on that Friday. I was sitting with a work colleague about one o'clock … My work colleague was looking at me going 'are you OK?' Something just wasn't sitting right. And then I find out that afternoon that my brother was killed," Ms Vaughan said.
"I asked the firemen who attended the accident what time it was, they said it was approximately one o'clock."
Tragically, Mr Old's partner, Robyn, was diagnosed with breast cancer just a month-and-a-half later and today undergoes regular chemotherapy. It is the memory of Mr Old's larger-than-life personality that fuels her fighting spirit.
"He was my man for 23 years. He was a gentle soul," Robyn said.
Around the Glasshouse Mountains, where the pair lived and worked, everyone knew him as "the postie". And when he wasn't on his postal route or spending time with family, he was enjoying a beer at the Glasshouse Bowls Club on a Friday afternoon, or donating his time at the local koala sanctuary.
"(The sanctuary) used to always say to him 'We'll pay you'. And he'd say 'Nah, it's all for the bears'," Ms Vaughan said.
At Mr Old's funeral, dozens of mourners donned his favourite colour yellow. But Ms Vaughan said the best way to celebrate his life is to live as he would have - with love, generosity and forgiveness.