It's 11.15pm Friday the 23rd of February 2001, I had just climbed into bed, my wife was on the phone to her sister, Stace was due home at 11pm. Lights were traveling down our driveway and my wife suspected it was Stacey but as the vehicle turned around the security light came on and POLICE was lit up. My wife yelled out that there must be something wrong. As I was getting dressed I could vaguely hear the police informing my wife that Stacey had been involved in a car crash, and was awaiting transportation by air ambulance to The Alfred hospital. I cannot believe what I am hearing, this can’t be true, not our Stace. We were about to leave to be with Stace when the police got a call to say they were trying to stabilize Stace and we must wait. I rang a close friend who has been our family doctor for over 25 years, I asked him to come to our house, as by this time my wife was hysterical and I was not that much better either. We went outside, I looked up to the stars and prayed for Stace, I'm not a religious person but I was holding onto any hope I could find.
Hi my name is Terry House I am Stacey and Kelly's Dad. The reason I am here today is because I had a choice. When we lost Stacey I could have turned to drugs, Alcohol or being with Stace, believe me I contemplated all of the above but I know Stace wouldn't want that and my family needs me so I decided to turn my heartbreak into a positive by sharing my story, in hope that some good will come out of our loss.
It was then at that moment we received the call that would change our lives forever. Stace had not made it. Please let this be a dream, or nightmare rather. My wife lost it completely and just wanted to go to Stace but the police said we would again have to wait and it would be sometime. We would eventually be able to go to Frankston hospital and see Stace before the coroner comes. Now we must tell our other two children, Kell and Dan. Kell who had just had a baby girl 3 days before. And my 78 year old father, how do you tell him he will never see his granddaughter again? It will break his heart.
It's early hours of Saturday morning, we went to see Stace she is now at Frankston hospital, when we arrived we were asked to wait in a room with a police officer he briefly explained the events of the crash. What a job for him, imagine trying to explain the events of someone’s Childs death. I was not really listening; all I wanted was to see Stace. They took us into a room and she was lying there all alone. She looked as if she was sleeping and would soon wake up, but that was never going to happen again. I picked up her still then, warm hand and placed it on my heart. I told her she would be forever in my heart and I love you. We did not have much time as the coroner was coming to get her. The hardest thing I have ever had to do was sign the death certificate. As a parent the only certificate you should have to sign is a birth one.
A lot of things after that have become blocked by my memory. Your body goes into a numbness mode to protect itself I guess. A friend of the family drove me around looking for a place for Stace, we decided on Mornington cemetery as Stace loved to go to Mornington beach in summer. We decided to have a viewing before the funeral as Stacey's friends were having a difficult time accepting Stacey's death. We wanted to give them a chance to say goodbye including Paige her 2-year-old niece. Next would be the funeral, over 1000 family and friends attended, Stace had touched the lives and hearts of so many. So many things go through your mind. Whether you have made the right decision. Death is something you never talk about especially with your 17-year-old daughter.
I remember going up to our local shopping center. Stace worked in the local hairdressers as an apprentice. It wasn't long after the funeral and I could not understand why everyone was smiling, do they not realize I have just lost my daughter? My life has stopped why hasn't everyone else's?
Our house is no longer a happy place, you feel guilty about smiling and having a good time, for the first week looking in the mirror was impossible. Stacey's door to her room is now shut and left the exact same way as she left it that Friday; her pj's are still even sitting on her bed where she left them. It's funny I am always looking into Stace's window as I walk past hoping to see her head pop through the curtain, just hoping.
Even now I still have nightmares as to whether or not I made the right decision and even though I could not go to the scene of the crash, it still goes through my mind and I think of the pain Stace went through, how scared she must have been, you see, the crash happened on a unmade, unlit dirt road and Stace was scared of the dark.
And not only were we not with her when she passed away, but she had only known Kim, the driver of the car for about 6 weeks. So she was scared and alone when she left us. Imagine how terrified she would have been. Some of you may be wondering why I have not mentioned much of Kim, it's only because I only feel anger that she has robbed Stacey of her life and us our daughter. Kim had only had her license for 3 months. And driving inexperienced and with the conditions of the road, the Holden Barina left the road and hit a tree, the point of impact of course being the door handle on the passenger side of the car.
Now with the combination of all the above and with no responsibility for the life of her passenger Stace is no longer with us. Kim has received no penalty for the actions she took on that night but over the last year or so I have noticed a lot of writing on the tree she collided with. Obviously she is having a difficult time living with it, I guess that is her penalty that she has to live with the rest of her life just like we do.
Life is full of wonderful experiences; so don't let driving be your last.