Heartbroken mum's plea: 'Don't let this happen to you'

TOM followed his mum around like a cautious shadow.   

Michelle remembers how tightly the little four-year-old held her hand every time they stepped outside of their Sydney home.   

Just the day before he died,  she watched her beautiful little man carefully check their holiday house for places his baby brother Hugh could fall over.   

It makes it all the more inconceivable that Tom was killed after taking just two steps onto the quiet street outside the family home.  

"The bottom line is your heart is broken forever," the mum-of-three tells Kidspot.  

"I think about Tom every day.  

Michelle was extremely close to her second child Tom. Source: Madeline Cox
Michelle was extremely close to her second child Tom. Source: Madeline Cox

"I relive those moments every day. I think about the accident, about him, the beautiful child that he was and the fact his life is finished on this earth."  

Michelle lost Tom on the kind of scorching summer day best spent in front of a fan.   

Although it was too hot to be outside, the four-year-old spent his final day begging his mum to take him to the beach to try out his new boogie board from Santa.   

Finally, after an early dinner - Michelle gave in to his desperate pleas.  

Tom tragically died on January 5 2014. Source: Madeline Cox
Tom tragically died on January 5 2014. Source: Madeline Cox

In his excitement, Tom rushed to the front of the Macmasters Beach home with his grandparents, while the rest of the family got ready to go.  

Inside changing baby Hugh, Michelle assumed something had happened to her in-laws when she first heard footsteps pounding up the driveway.   

Her heart stopped as she ran outside and realised it was Tom.  

"I was in complete shock," she recalls vividly.  

"But I could tell just by looking at him that the injury was fatal."  

Michelle says they miss Tom (pictured with his mum and older sister Sophie) every day. Source: Madeline Cox
Michelle says they miss Tom (pictured with his mum and older sister Sophie) every day. Source: Madeline Cox

At that moment, Michelle wished she hadn't spent 19 years working as a nurse - maybe then she would have had a few more minutes of ignorance.  

But instead, she realised straight away that her precious boy was gone.   In a matter of seconds, she put together the fact that Tom had taken two steps out onto the road.  

And that, hidden by shrubs, a passing car wouldn't have been able to see him.  

"It was a blameless accident," she says.  

The broken family true to focus on the good memories of Tom. Source: Madeline Cox
The broken family true to focus on the good memories of Tom. Source: Madeline Cox

"I spent the next year trying to work out how this could happen to my son who was always at my side, who wasn't a risk-taker.  

"If Tom had been in reach of my in-laws, if the car had been just a little bit ahead - he would have lived to tell the tale.  "It was so unexpected, such a shock."  

Through her unbearable grief, Michelle struggled to go on for the sake of her other children - her baby Hugh, and Tom's older sister Sophie.  

She tried as hard as she could to make sure their "happy loving family" continued in Tom's absence.  

For his siblings' sake - she knew she couldn't fall apart.  

Michelle says the entire family has been changed by Tom's death. Source: Madeline Cox
Michelle says the entire family has been changed by Tom's death. Source: Madeline Cox

 "It's very hard to do, but I used to save my tears for when I went to bed at night, as much as I could," she says.  

"When you go through something like this, at the end of the day, you're on your own and you do need to find a strategy.  

"It's not easy, but you think learn after you have a baby that you can no longer be selfish - you've got these beautiful children to care for and they're so special."  

"They are irreplaceable. People said to me, well you can have another baby. But I can't get another Tom."

But then it came to Michelle that maybe she could make sure that Tom's legacy carried on.  

She realised that the tragic accident could happen to anyone.  

"It's the near misses we don't hear about," Michelle says.  

"But the fact of the matter is when you look around the street on any given day and you look at a parent or a carer, they may not be always holding their children's hand."  

"Its busy and someone could just turn their back for a split second and there's an accident - it's really about people being vigilant and holding their kids close." 

The family has set up Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation in Tom's honour - striving to make sure every Australian parent is aware of the risks. 

"I believe through my experience, that holding a child's hand is just as important as putting a seatbelt on them in the car, if not more so because they've got no protection around their body," she said. 

"I just felt with Tom being such a caring, loving child - this foundation would ensure other children aren't hurt like him.

"I might be the one doing the everyday work for the foundation, but I really believe in my heart and soul that it's him that's doing the good work - saving kids lives."

For more information about road safety, visit the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation.

 

This article originally appeared on Kidspot and has been reproduced here with permission.

News Corp Australia

Whitsunday waste on fire

premium_icon Whitsunday waste on fire

A fire broke at a rubbish dump this afternoon

'Everyone is so friendly': Group gives sisters taste of home

premium_icon 'Everyone is so friendly': Group gives sisters taste of home

How two Thai sisters came to embrace life in the Whitsundays.

All aboard Adani: Mackay to secure rail subcontractor work

premium_icon All aboard Adani: Mackay to secure rail subcontractor work

‘The fact that the major rail contractor isn’t based in Mackay doesn’t mean Mackay...