‘I’ve killed a child and I don’t want to live anymore’
THE elderly driver who fatally struck a six-year-old girl in a shopping centre carpark has died of a broken heart, says her husband, and her final words were: "I've killed a child and I don't want to live anymore.''
Miriam Grace Paton, 86, had been facing a count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death after the June 17 tragedy that claimed the life of Sunshine Coast schoolgirl Indie Armstrong.
Mrs Paton accidentally reversed her car into Indie, who had been on a pedestrian crossing with her seven-year-old sister, Lily, and their grandmother Sandy Bampton, 57.
Two days after the crash, Mrs Paton was admitted to Nambour Hospital with severe lower back pain and a "lumbar crush fracture".
She then developed pneumonia and missed her first court date on July 25, as well as subsequent mentions, the most recent on Friday last week.
Her husband, Stuart, 90, said his wife, a primary teacher for half a century, had loved children and could not live with her sorrow.
He told Mrs Paton's lawyer and friend, Peter Boyce, that she had "gone downhill'' after watching news reports about her court case.
"I've killed a child and I don't want to live anymore,'' were her final words to Mr Paton, who she sent home in a bid to protect him from her death.
"She was heartbroken, she could not bear the thought of having caused the little girl's death. She wanted to die,'' Mr Paton said.
Mr Boyce said Mrs Paton had been ill, but if she had not had the remorse and court case hanging over her head the outcome might have been different.
He said Mrs Paton had died at midnight on Wednesday and hospital staff had been "in tears'' when they contacted her husband.
"She was a lovely lady, very kind and gentle, but strong-minded,'' Mr Boyce said.
Mr Paton paid tribute to his wife, who he said had devoted her life to children as a primary teacher.
Her career began as a 21-year-old at Booubyjan in the South Burnett and she later taught at Bundaberg, Mundubbera, Brisbane and Buderim for a total of 50 years, also working as a secretary overseas.
Mr Paton said his wife also cared for children with special needs during her time in education and was big-hearted.
A photograph provided by her husband to News Queensland shows Mrs Paton at Everton Park State School where she worked as a teacher/librarian in the 1990s. It was taken just before she retired.
Mr Boyce said Mrs Paton had many friends in the community and would be missed.
He said the terrible accident had been the only time in her life that she had been in trouble and the guilt had been immense.
The police and the court had been officially notified of Mrs Paton's passing.
Indie's father Jason told News Queensland he had been made aware of the death.
He said his family, from the hinterland town of Yandina, was still struggling with the loss and "trying to keep things together''.
"We really have nothing more to say," he said.
"No words are going to bring her back. This has been an incredibly rough time.''
Hundreds turned out to farewell the North Arm State School Year 1 student at her funeral service in July.
In a message penned by her parents, Indie was remembered as a free spirit who lit up the lives of her family, who loved them, and was loved by them "to the moon and back".
"Indie Rose, my beautiful baby girl you came into the world so peacefully. You were our ray of sunshine, you brought so much joy to us.
"You were crazy, fun, with the biggest heart. Your kindness was radiant, you were a caring friend and you were a loving sister who always looked out for Sunny and Lily.
"You were a free spirit who always looked on the bright side of life and loved to have fun wherever you went.
"You loved swimming in the ocean, catching crabs and jumping waves, swinging upside down in the frangipani tree and riding your bike around the hill like crazy.''