Brad Arndt with his partner Maxine Smith and her son Dakota Smith. Brad is holding a picture of his son Liam Arndt and his girlfriend Kailah O'Keeffe. Liam was killed in a car crash in NSW.
Brad Arndt with his partner Maxine Smith and her son Dakota Smith. Brad is holding a picture of his son Liam Arndt and his girlfriend Kailah O'Keeffe. Liam was killed in a car crash in NSW. Alistair Brightman

Hervey Bay dad calls for help to bring son home

ALL Pialba's Brad Arndt wants to do is bring his son Liam home.

Liam, 18, was killed at Grong Grong in New South Wales on July 25 when he fell asleep at the wheel after more than 15 hours of driving. His car hit a tree.

His pregnant girlfriend, Kailah O'Keefe, also 18, was in the car with him but survived the crash.

She suffered serious injuries, including a fractured eye socket, damage to her legs and abdominal area.

She is recovering at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.

Her unborn child also survived the crash.

The couple had been travelling to Darlington Point, where Kailah's mother lives, to build a new life with their child.

Their dog, Flame, was found dead at Liam's feet.

Like many parents, Brad always thought he would be the one to go first and didn't plan for his child's funeral.

Liam was his only son and Brad, who is on a disability pension, has no money to to bring Liam home to Hervey Bay or have him cremated.

Knowing the overwhelming grief his stepfather was feeling and not wanting the financial burden to add to it, Dakota Wilson, 17, decided to take to Facebook to create a page that would honour his stepbrother's memory - and also find a way for the family to bring him home to them as quickly as possible.

The page, called Bring Liam Home, has attracted many donations from people including $650 from Liam's former school, Urangan State High School.

Reading the dozens of messages on Facebook has opened Brad's eyes to how many lives his son touched during his short life.

"It makes me feel he didn't die in vain. He touched so many hearts."

The family plans to hold a memorial day for Liam when they finally get his remains home.

Dakota's page has already brought donations of more than $2000.

The family estimates that if they can reach $7000 will they will have enough to bring their son and brother home.

Parting words haunt father

BRAD Arndt reflects often on his final words to his son, Liam.

Before Liam and his girlfriend, Kailah O'Keefe, started their journey home to Darlington Point in NSW, Brad told his son to drive safely and not to drive if he was tired.

The words haunt him now.

He told them both he loved them and again told them to stay safe.

"He knew that I loved him," Brad said.

"He was a wonderful kid."

Brad wonders if his son knew his life would be short - "he always wanted to have a good time first and spread the love," he said.

Liam joined the Australian Navy after leaving school but put off starting his training, choosing to focus on his relationship with Kailah instead.

The two were excited about becoming parents and Brad was thrilled to be expecting a grandchild.

Now that grandchild is even more important to him - he says it is the only part of Liam he has left.



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