‘Robbed of a beautiful girl’: Parents’ anguish over crash death
Tyre marks and shattered glass once marked the trail of destruction made by the car crash that stole the life of 17-year-old Alyssa Postle in August last year.
Now, what remains is a bittersweet love story - by those who were robbed of a daughter, a sister, a friend.
That story is told in the form of bouquets of flowers, a white cross bearing her name and even a Christmas ornament to signify one of the many joys of life this beloved girl will miss.
As drivers pass the busy intersection of Old North and Lavarack roads in Bray Park, this is what they see.
The tribute serves not only as a memorial to a vibrant young woman, champion runner and generous soul on the cusp of her Year 12 graduation, but a reminder to young motorists to be safe on the roads.
It's a message Alyssa's heartbroken parents Troy and Kellie, of Bray Park, are striving to share with as many young drivers as they can in a bid to save another family from facing the pain they endure every second.
"It's like a marathon, every morning you don't feel like getting up … but you have to, it's a choice," Mrs Postle said.
"There's no joy in day-to-day life at the moment.
"It feels like that's been taken even though we've still got two beautiful kids here and we are so thankful for them.
"I feel like a piece of me is missing, and I think that will be forever.
"So you cry - I cry in the shower, I cry in the car, I just cry all the time - I'm just so sad.
"Just the fact that we're never going to see her again … sometimes it's surreal, it doesn't feel like it's really happened."
Mr Postle, who operates a pool maintenance business, said daily life remained excruciating six months on.
"I'm just a broken man pretty much. But I've got to keep going, I'm trying really hard," he said.
"I've sat in people's driveways doing my job and had to compose myself to get out (of the car). Driving between my jobs, the tears will just start flowing.
"I'll hear a song or something triggers me … I just feel like we've been robbed.
"This family's just been so robbed of a beautiful girl."
Alyssa's life was lost after heading to dinner with friends about 6.45pm August 11.
The car she was a passenger in crashed into a power pole outside Bray Park State High School.
Alyssa was critically injured and three days later her family made the gut-wrenching decision to turn her life support off.
The juvenile driver was charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death and will be dealt with under the Youth Justice Act.
"She was really excited (the night of the crash), because they'd been shut in because of COVID - it's supposed to be their last year of school, all activities, lots of stuff had stopped, they had the lockdown where they couldn't even catch up," Mrs Postle said.
"So we were a little more open minded in allowing her to go out … she got a bit cranky at us because we said she had to be home by 8.30pm and she didn't want to come home at 8.30, she thought that was too early - she had to pick up two of her friends to go to the (Warner) Tavern as well.
"She left a bit cranky but 10 minutes (later) … she must have stopped to pick up one of her friends and I got my last text from her and it just said, 'I'm sorry, I understand. I should see you at 8.30 xx'.
"She's always been a good girl.
"She's always worried about what other people had thought, she's always been someone that's never broken rules.
"She's always been a good respectful girl, right up until the accident."
But while Alyssa safely arrived at the Warner Tavern, the group of teens was turned away because some of them were under age.
"So they've all left, and in the car park, she's gone into (another P-plate driver's) car and left her car in the car park.
"That for us is probably the one thing that could have saved Alyssa, if she wasn't allowed to hop in the car as a passenger."
The family, through their Live4Lyss campaign and other initiatives, is now working to change the laws surrounding P-plate driving as well as boost safety training and support.
"I really think that when they're learning to drive, there (should) always a peer person that's had their licence (with them in the car).
"I've had a look at places like New Zealand, and they've got more of a restricted licensing process so when you first go onto your Ps over there, you can only have a peer support driver as a passenger but they have to have had their open licence for at least two years.
"It's a gradual licensing system, and since they've brought that in they've actually seen lower accidents and young people dying on the roads.
"For me, that's my number one thing I'd like to change is the laws around when children first get their P-plates.
"(Right now) the learner is going from (instructed driving), straight into a car by themselves, and that in itself is something they need to learn how to do, they need to learn how to drive on their own.
"But they have their besties in the car, they might have people in the back, they've got music going …"
She said she was also looking into justice for youth drivers accused of serious crashes.
"If it's OK for a 17-year-old to have a car, and to drive and to be treated as an adult in that light, then if they cause an incident that results in somebody dying or something very serious, they should have to face the consequences.
"Other young people that think they're 10-foot tall and bulletproof will go, well, nothing will happen to us, we're not 18."
Since Alyssa's death, more youths have been linked fatal crashes in Greater Brisbane including one which claimed the life of a 17-year-old driver at Bahrs Scrub at the weekend.
For the Postle family, the recent deaths of Matt Field, Katherine Leadbetter and their unborn son Miles, allegedly at the hands of a juvenile driver at Alexandra Hills on Australia Day, was a prime example of the need for stronger youth justice.
"So it's something that really needs to be looked at," Mrs Postle said.
They said their third concern was regarding road safety education in schools and its inclusion within secondary school curriculums.
"I was even reading young kids' (social media) posts saying 'it's so easy to get a licence these days, it's just too easy, you do your 100 hours and you sit a test for 20 minutes' … these are kids saying this - it's too easy to get their licence," Mr Postle said.
Mrs Postle said a safety app called Life360 was a breakthrough improvement to young driver safety.
"I got told about (it) the day Alyssa got her licence.
"What you can do is track (the driver) and you can see where they are but it also has extra functions, so it can tell you if they've used their phone in the car, it can tell you the speeds - it will alert if you do over the speed limit. It tracks hard braking," she said.
But Mrs Postle said it was an uphill battle for parents to convince children to install the app.
"I actually looked into it and downloaded it and sent Alyssa a link. She got really cranky, she's like 'why do I need to download this - don't you trust me?'
"And that's the thing - it's really hard for parents to try to enforce it individually for their kids because they don't want that, they want freedom.
"But in hindsight, had that had been on her phone, potentially she would have gone 'oh OK, well if I turn my data off, mum's going to question me' … or, 'I'm just going to get in my own car (the night of the crash) in case (the driver accused of the fatal crash) is a bit reckless'."
The pair is now working to have Life360 a mandatory part of young driver safety.
They are also supporting the work of Gold Coast-based driver awareness organisation You Choose.
Organisation founders Melissa and Peter McGuinness's 18-year-old son, Jordan, was speeding and under the influence of alcohol and drugs when he drove his car into parked car, killing himself and four young people in the other car.
"They have a story that they have that they go around and present to other students, and it's showing you the impact of that on the families, the siblings," Mrs Postle said.
"So Genesis, the school Alyssa went to, they actually brought them out (last) Monday.
"So I actually went along and got to watch it.
"And there were students walking out, crying.
"It was the entire Year 12 cohort and I just watched them and they did not move, they were so engaged and it was so powerful.
"And then … (the McGunnesses) draw them in and they talk about, well your choice has an outcome and it's up to you what you choose."
The couple said working to protect other young families from their heartache was a vital factor which kept them pushing through the grief.
"How we move forward is to have that purpose," Mrs Postle said.
"(Alyssa) had so much to give and she had a heart for people, she really did.
"She was a hard worker. She would have finished school and gone on and just flourished, she would have blossomed.
"And Alyssa … she would want us to live our lives."
Originally published as 'Robbed of a beautiful girl': Parents' anguish over Alyssa's crash death