The father of a teenage girl who died in a horrific car crash last year has written a heartbreaking letter to Ray Hadley, revealing his pain a year on and thanking him and other strangers for their support at the time.
Garry Gillett was giving his 19-year-old daughter Jodie a driving lesson in Glenorie, Sydney’s north-west, in April last year. As Jodie began pulling out of a side street, their car was T-boned by a speeding vehicle and she tragically died at the scene. Garry himself was left fighting for his life for weeks in hospital, before undergoing a further five weeks in rehab.
A year on, he has written a moving and lengthy letter to 2GB host Hadley, thanking him for his kind words at the time and listing a series of strangers who either supported them or helped save his life at the scene.
“My wife was told on that night of the accident, they didn’t expect me to pull through, but I did,” he revealed in the note.
“I was the lucky one because my daughter Jodie, who was on her L’s only 1 month from sitting for her licence, was driving when the other car hit us (T-boned) in the driver side door. They tell me she died almost instantly.”
Reading the letter out on air, Hadley became emotional as he explained he’d missed the letter at first as it came in while he was on leave, but was notified of it when he returned.
He explained that the accident had hit him hard at the time, and he even took his own daughter to the scene later to warn her of the importance of road safety.
“It struck me because I have a daughter, roughly the same age as the young lady involved here,” he admitted.
The letter continued with Garry crediting some of his daughter’s achievements and interests in her life, from studying to be a primary school teacher to working in a school and teaching dancing lessons.
A learner-driver has died & her supervising driver is critically injured following a two-vehicle crash at Glenorie; drivers are urged to avoid the area as the road will be closed for hours yet; there are no diversions.
— NSW Police Force (@nswpolice) April 27, 2018
“She cared very much for her family and friends and would help at the drop of a hat,” he added.
“As with all teenagers she had her moments but these were few and far between. Jodie was selfless and would help, guide and nurture anyone without question. We all miss her very much and as you can imagine my wife and I and our other 2 daughters have been through a very rough 12 months.”
Garry revealed he has no recollection of the accident even now, but has pieced together most of it from witnesses at the scene.
He went on to thank a series of people for helping them, from a man who held his daughter’s hand throughout, to another who “performed CPR on Jodie for 5 minutes, unfortunately to no avail”.
“Next I would like to thank the emergency services especially the helicopter service,” he added. “They summed up the situation and immediately called for a Code Crimson which means you get airlifted by helicopter, in my case it was to Royal North Shore Hospital, where the doctors and nurses were already in the operating theatre waiting.
“This in turn also save me because I had to be resuscitated at the scene and also in the operating Theatre.”
Next he thanked a family neighbour for being their for his wife when the news came in, as well as Hadley for his kind words at the time, and his wife herself.
“Finally I like to thank my wife Heidi and my daughter’s for helping me through my recovery, I can only imagine the horror they must have gone through. We will miss our beautiful girl forever and will always remember the help we receive from everyone,” he wrote in the note.
“I wonder all the time how I survived such catastrophic injuries. At first I thought that, because I was a long time Tigers supporter, that I’d adapted to going through bad times. Then I realised that I must have had help from above, from Jodie, from wherever she was.”
He concluded the moving note by requesting Ray play the song ‘Butterfly Kisses’ in his daughter’s memory, who he said would give him “Eskimo kisses, you know, where you rub noses” when she was little, along with her siblings.
Ray thanked him for the letter and revealed his heartbreak on air over the words, insisting he’d never forgotten the accident since first reporting on it the year before.