The grandmother of a young school girl who tragically died after being hit by a car driven by an elderly woman has pleaded with the government to change the laws surrounding drivers aged over 75.
Sandy Bampton, 58, watched on in horror as her beloved granddaughter Indie Armstrong was accidentally reversed into and killed almost exactly one year ago by Miriam Grace Paton.
The 86-year-old was driving a silver hatchback at the Nambour shopping centre on the Sunshine Coast when she struck the six-year-old who was standing at a pedestrian crossing with her sister Lily, their mother Emily and grandma Sandy. Little Indie tragically died in hospital a short time later, while her grandma and sister suffered serious leg injuries.
This would be a significant change from current laws which see all Queenslander drivers over 75 undergo regular medical assessments in order to keep their licence.
“This needs to be taken away from the doctors and be run by the Transport Department, the same place you get your licence,” Sandy told The Courier Mail. “This will ensure everyone would be tested fairly.”
However, it may take a bit more fighting for the changes to be made, with Transport Minister Mark Bailey claiming they have no plans yet to alter the process.
“Current laws already recognise the physical and mental changes that can come with ageing by requiring Queensland licence holders aged 75 or older to carry and drive in accordance with, a current medical certificate,” he told the news outlet. “We have no plans to add to those measures and introduce mandatory testing.”
Sandy admitted that “life has never been the same” since the accident and her comments come months after the driver of the car that hit Indie and her family, Miriam Grace Paton, passed away.
Paton had been struggling with a string of health conditions, including pneumonia, which caused her to miss a number of court dates in the months leading up to her death.
As well as battling with the severe infection of the lungs, her husband Stuart, 90, told The Courier Mail his wife could not live with the heartache endured following the terrible accident.
“I’ve killed a child and I don’t want to live anymore,” were her final words to Stuart before she passed away, the publication reported.
“She was heartbroken, she could not bear the thought of having caused the little girl’s death. She wanted to die.”
Although Paton didn’t have any children of her own, the 86-year-old had dedicated much of her life to kids through her work as a teacher, which according to her family and solicitor made the situation all that more difficult.
According to her solicitor Peter Boyce, Paton had decided there was no point in going on and that she had decided to stop her treatment for her health conditions.
“It’s a tragic outcome, not only for Miriam and for her family, but for Indie’s family who are still suffering and grieving.”