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'The dog still waits on dad's driveway': Family's tragedy

Bryan Baker was killed in a crash near Mackay earlier this year.
Bryan Baker was killed in a crash near Mackay earlier this year. Facebook

THE red cattle dog still waits on the driveway at Bryan Baker's home, five months after the motorcyclist was killed by a car doing a U-turn.

"Our lives will never be the same,” daughter Kate Hardwick cries. "Letters are still coming for Dad in the post. It's all quite a lot to deal with.”

Bryan Baker, 62, was killed on May 14 when George Henry Charles Windsor didn't take the proper precautions making a U-turn in his car and collided with the Erakala man's motorbike near Mackay.

Mr Windsor walked from court with a $2000 fine and lost his licence for six months (with no conviction recorded) - due to a gap in appropriate legislation in the circumstances.

But the sentence handed down has done little to comfort the families affected. "It doesn't seem like we're placing the proper value on human life,” Ms Hardwick said.

"The community expect if a life is taken, there'll be severe repercussions. I think if Dad saw a case like this he would tell [legislators] to pull their heads out of the sand and do their job.

Jess Baker, Jim Baker, Bryan Baker and Kate Hardwick pictured before the crash on May 14.
Jess Baker, Jim Baker, Bryan Baker and Kate Hardwick pictured before the crash on May 14. Baker family

"There's too many families who've been affected. I read and hear terrible stories of people's lives changing forever. We need to do something and we need to do it fast.”

Ms Hardwick described her dad as a "passionate, giving man, a hard worker, who would have given the shirt off his back to anyone”.

The Alligator Creek woman and her family have joined a raft of other Queensland families welcoming tougher driving laws set to go before Queensland Parliament, following recommendations handed down by the State Coroner as a result of the inquest into the death of Audrey Ann Dow.

Ms Dow, 81, died in July, 2013 in Mackay, after disqualified driver Aaron Kite's car veered into the lane she was travelling in, while he played with his phone.

Mr Kite walked free with a fine of $4000 and lost his licence for six months, after he was convicted of driving without due care or attention.

Ms Dow's family, including daughter Angela Meiklejohn (who's since moved to Sydney), have fought for change ever since.

"We're pleased to see progress ... What happened in our case, the driver that caused the accident was a repeat offender, and he wasn't able to be charged with the higher charge of dangerous driving,” Ms Meiklejohn said.

Angela Meiklejohn pictured with her mum Audrey Dow before Ms Dow was killed in the 2013 crash.
Angela Meiklejohn pictured with her mum Audrey Dow before Ms Dow was killed in the 2013 crash. Contributed

"Courts will still need to decide on an individual basis what sentences will be, but we just believe there should be a custodial sentence, not just a fine, where injury or death is a result.

"A fine for killing someone is totally, manifestly inappropriate. Everyone's driving can affect everyone else's life.”

Four years on, "there's still not a day which goes by” that Ms Dow's family doesn't think of their "selfless” matriarch, snatched from they in devastating circumstances.

"She always thought of everyone else before herself,” Ms Meiklejohn said.

"She was a loving mother and grandmother who's sadly missed. I really miss her advice on a daily basis.”

Both Ms Hardwick and Ms Meiklejohn urged the public to support the petition 'Harsher penalties for negligent driving causing death or serious injury' on the Queensland Government website.

Mr Windsor and Mr Kite have apologised to Mr Baker and Ms Dow's families, either directly or via the media. Mr Kite has signed Ms Meiklejohn's separate Change.org petition, 'Justice for victims of unlicensed drivers who kill or injure', admitting he "should have gone to jail”.

Topics:  driving laws mackay court mackay crime mackay police queensland government queensland parliament queensland police service


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