John Meyers still thinks every day of his two children who were killed in a road accident. A memorial to them hangs on the wall of his museum.
John Meyers still thinks every day of his two children who were killed in a road accident. A memorial to them hangs on the wall of his museum. Jocelyn Watts

Parents haunted by loss of children

THE SCREAM that John Meyers let out from the fractured depths of his pain and his grief and his soul will stay with him forever.

“I lay on our bed and after Else had somehow pulled herself enough together to go back into the lounge where so many people had gathered, I screamed and it was the most horrible scream you could imagine.”

This was less than 24 hours after Else and John Meyers had lost their two teenage children to a terrible crash on the Bruce Highway at Gympie.

Geoff, 18, Karen, 16 and Karen’s boyfriend, Les Williams, had gone for a drive in an old Volkswagen Beetle that Geoff had bought to run around Gympie in while he was home from the army for a few weeks.

“It was November 29, 1982 around 9pm,” John recalled yesterday. “I was 41 and Else 40 and Geoff and Karen were our only children.

“Geoff was in the army and about to be posted to Malaya and Karen was doing temporary work at Woolworths.

“Geoff and Les had come home and asked Karen if she wanted to go for a drive. Else tied Karen’s top for her at the back and that was the last time she saw them alive.”

The kids had turned the Vee-Dub around and were heading home. They crossed over some roadwork and probably swerved to avoid a sign. That’s when the semi-trailer loaded with melons went straight into them.

“All three were thrown out of the car. Karen died instantly. Geoff died in hospital half an hour later. Les survived with a severely fractured skull. Karen and Geoff also had fractured skulls. There was nothing recognisable left of the car.”

John is trying to control his tears as he speaks – 28 years later.

“I think of them every day and so does Else.”

At the time of the crash John was in Sydney on business. He didn’t know of the tragedy until early next morning when his brother-in-law met him at Brisbane railway station and broke the news.

“I couldn’t accept it then and even for days after. I kept thinking how can I bring them back to life? The two of them had been wiped out. There wasn’t even one child left to give our love to. It was the most lonely horrible feeling.”

John walked into their Gympie home with so many friends and family there to console them.

“I grabbed Else and we went into the bedroom, lay on the bed and cried and cried. Later I asked someone to take me to the funeral parlour. The children were in their coffins and had been done up by the undertaker. I kissed them both. I went back to the house and asked Else to come and see them. We both kissed them.”

John says he will pledge to the Chronicle’s Drive 2 Stay Alive campaign, which he applauds.

“I ask drivers to respect other drivers, to be patient and not angry if someone pulls into the road in front of them. Slow down; don’t give them the two-finger sign.

“I wouldn’t mind more speed cameras. If you’re caught, don’t whinge. It’s because you were driving too fast. We need to be frightened to keep safe on the roads. Speed cameras do that.”

In 1982 when Geoff and Karen died, Qld had 602 road deaths.

“That toll has dropped considerably so cameras and so on are working.”

In 2006 John and Else dedicated their Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum to Geoff and Karen.

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