Stay alert this Easter

TWELVE white crosses will line the Hume Freeway between Glenrowan and Springhurst from today.

Each marks the exact spot a car came off the road and where a life was lost.

They represent people like Peter Jackson, 75, who was travelling with his wife to Melbourne for the impending birth of his grandson when he had a micro sleep and veered off the freeway and crashed.

His wife, Joy Jackson, 73, who was in the front passenger seat, lost the love of her life.

The crosses also represent the passion and pain of the Wangaratta traffic cop who put them there.

EDITORIAL: Don't ignore the crosses.

Highway Patrol Sgt Michael Connors sought approval from the police command and VicRoads to line the 50-kilometre stretch of the freeway during the Easter long weekend in an effort to reach out to drivers.

The idea came to him after he attended two fatal crashes – one in Yarrawonga and another just 20 kilometres away in Tungamah – on the same day in November 2012.

He knocked off that night with the day ticking over in his mind, and he would have a restless night’s sleep.

“One of the drivers left behind a wife and four children,” Sgt Connors said.

“It just gets to you after a while to see the carnage and the unnecessary loss of life.

“I just thought more can be done.”

Sgt Connors wanted to do something that people could not ignore on one of the country’s busiest roads during one of the busiest times of the year.

He looked back as far as 2007 and made large, white crosses marked with the dates of deaths of 12 people.

“People see the television campaigns and read the stories, but hopefully something like this is more in their face and people will understand that it can happen to them,” Sgt Connors said.

On August 8, 2009, Mr and Mrs Jackson were driving from their home in Lakesland, south of Sydney, to Melbourne with their curly coated retriever dog Murray for the birth of their grandson.

Mrs Jackson, who was driving, stopped at Holbrook for a break and swapped driving with her husband.

“I was knitting. When I looked up, he was sitting there. His eyes weren’t closed, but he looked like he was having a micro sleep,” Mrs Jackson said.

“I said ‘We’re running off the road’ and Peter said, ‘Oh, are we?’ and turned the wheel. Murray had his head on the console between us, he knew something was wrong.”

The car rolled several times and Mr Jackson was killed instantly, his wife was taken to hospital and Murray had to be put down because of his injuries.

“The only thing is, the next day, my daughter had a little grandson,” Mrs Jackson said.

Mrs Jackson, who still lives in the couple’s home in Lakesland, praised Sgt Connors for the campaign.

“He’s a lovely and caring person and hopefully it makes people aware.

“People always blame the road, but it’s human error. You take your eyes off it and it only takes a second and it changes your life forever,” she said.

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