They were just innocent passers-by, but Darrin and Jo Collier risked their own lives to try and save the Falkholt family who were involved in a horrific car crash.
On Boxing Day 2017, a deadly crash occurred on the Princess Highway in New South Wales that claimed the lives of Home and Away star Jessica Falkholt, her parents, Vivian and Lars, and sister Annabelle.
Appearing on Channel 9’s A Current Affair on Friday night, more than a year on, Darrin and Jo gave a recount of what happened that day.
“It was so unfair,” Jo said. “They were a beautiful family – the whole family – that, just in an instant, was wiped out.”
Darrin, Jo and their two teenage sons were driving on the Princess Highway, when they noticed a four-wheel-drive darting in and out of traffic.
“Darrin actually said before it happened, ‘I think that car is going to cause an accident’,” Jo recalled. “We rounded the corner and, sure enough, it was that car in the middle of the road, spun around.”
Darrin jumped out of his car and bravely pulled Annabelle and Jessica from the blazing car.
“We cut the seat belts and we got Annabel out first, and we just ran back – probably 15, 20 metres maybe – and then we just ran straight back, grabbed Jessica and we took her straight out as well,” Darrin said.
“You sit there and think, ‘What if that was one of my kids?’ It would be terrible.”
Jessica’s parents died at the scene, while her sister Annabelle passed away a few days later from her severe injuries. She was in Sydney’s Liverpool hospital at the time of her death and had her life support switched off.
Meanwhile, Jessica continued to fight for her life for several weeks in hospital, but tragically lost her battle in January, surrounded by her friends and extended family.
“I was gutted, I was really upset,” Darrin said. “I felt really bad after saying to her, ‘You’re going to be all right’.”
Jo added: “This is an incident that happened in a second and has ramifications that last a lifetime. It could have been us in that accident, just as easily.”
The Falkholts were injured when 50-year-old Craig Whitall crashed into the family’s car after leaving a methadone clinic. Whitall had previously been jailed for driving with a disqualified licence and was driving on P-plates after recently obtaining his licence again. The Australian reported that Whitall, a grandfather and father of two, was “well known” to police and had a long criminal history.
The horror crash has since prompted calls for changes to road laws.