‘I loved them all more than I can say’: Sister’s tribute
THE sister of one of four young adults killed in a horror Gold Coast head-on says all had "bright futures" as a city MP calls for fast-tracked road upgrades on the killer stretch.
Brisbane's Courtney Smith, 20, and Kirsten Van Gorp, 22 were killed alongside Townsville's Lochlan Parker, 20 and Katrina McKeough, 21 when the sedan Mazda 3 they were all in crashed into an oncoming utility in the Gold Coast Hinterland on Saturday.
The four mates were going along Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd at Advancetown when the driver reportedly lost control and collided with the Volkswagen Amarok ute. Conditions were wet at the time.
Ambulance crews tried to save their lives but all suffered "traumatic cardiac arrest" and died at the scene, with shocked emergency workers needing welfare support. The 31-year-old male driver of the utility was taken to Gold Coast Hospital with minor injuries. It is understood all four victims were university students, mostly at James Cook University.
Ms Smith transferred from James Cook University in 2019 before becoming a student at the Queensland University of Technology.
Ms McKeough's sister, Andrea McKeough, shared her heartbreak on Facebook after learning about her sister's death.
Ms McKeough wrote on Saturday: "I'm completely and utterly as a loss for words.
"Today around 1pm, my sister Katrina McKeough and three of our close friends Lochlan Parker, Courtney Smith and Kirsten Van Gorp were involved in a horrific car crash in the Gold Coast and were killed almost instantly.
"To all the family and friends who have been affected by this, I'm so sorry … I loved them all more than I can say and they all had such bright futures ahead of them.
"I don't even know how to begin to process this. I loved my sister so much and I feel wretched knowing that the last time we spoke, we fought.
"Badly. We never made peace with the argument, and now never will. All I can say is to keep your loved ones close and to cherish every moment.
"I never imagined this would happen, but it has - and I would give anything to have seen her one last time to make it right."
Originally from Nuhlunbuy in the Northern Territory, it's understood Ms McKeough moved to Townsville to study a Bachelor of Engineering. Ms McKeough had a promising career ahead of her and was awarded the 2019 Glencore Prize in Engineering and 2019 Glencore Prize in Science.
Ms Smith and her friends were travelling to the Natural Bridge in the Springbrook National Park, it's understood.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads last month announced $34 million had been allocated to upgrading Nerang Murwillumbah Rd.
The project is due to start in early 2021, however, a Gold Coast MP has called for the project to be fast tracked and more targeted after the fatal crash.
Mudgeerba MP Ros Bates said community consultation and the design development of the project needed to be done as soon as possible.
Ms Bates said there had been 16 fatalities, 31 hospitalisations and "countless" near-misses since mid 2014 on Nerang Murwillumbah Rd.
"There have been so many near-misses and hospitalisations that aren't reported on and the majority of them are motorcyclists," Ms Bates said.
"We get a lot of motorbikes, push bikes and tourist out this way and people aren't always doing the right thing.
"It's a good road if you drive to the conditions and stick to the speed limit … but there definitely needs to be some passing lanes."
Ms Bates said some of the safety improvements being considered were centreline marking from Beaudesert - Nerang Road to Latimers Crossing Rd and dedicated right turns into Parkway Drive and Tangara Rd at Advancetown.
However, she said there had been no community consultation to decide where the money would be best spent.
Ms Bates said the TMR needed to speak with locals and first repsonders who travelled the road daily and knew where the hot spots were.
"I'm certainly not giving the $34 million back, but I want to make sure it's spent in the right places," Ms Bates said.
FATALS IN THE AREA
1. NATURAL BRIDGE, November 8, 2014, 2.50pm: 47-year-old man from Newmarket died after crashing his motorcycle on Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd.
2. ADVANCETOWN, November 12, 2014, 9pm: 32-year-old male driver of sedan died on Lower Beechmont Rd.
3. MUDGEERABA, December 1, 2014, 4.30pm: 54-year-old driver of hatchback died on Springbrook Rd.
4. NATURAL BRIDGE, February 1, 2015, 9am: 48-year-old male motorcyclist died on Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd.
5. LOWER BEECHMONT, April 18, 2015, 11.30am: 33-year-old male motorcyclist killed on Beechmont Rd.
6. CLAGIRABA, April 28, 8pm: 24-year-old male driver of sedan died on Beaudesert-Nerang Rd.
7. ADVANCETOWN, July 4, 2015, 4pm: 38-year-old male motorbike rider, an international tourist, dead after falling off back of motorbike on Beechmont Rd.
8. ADVANCETOWN, September 27, 2015, 11am: 59-year-old motorcycle enthusiast David Hull was killed when hit by a van on Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd.
9. ADVANCETOWN, October 22, 2015, 3.45pm: 24-year-old male motorcyclist died on Clagiraba Rd.
10. SPRINGBROOK, October 29, 2015, 4pm: Rider believed to be in his 40s killed after reportedly failing to negotiate a bend on Springbrook Rd.
11. ADVANCETOWN, January 28, 2017, 5.50pm: Fatal motorcycle accident, female pillion passenger on Nerang-Murwillumbah Road.
12. ADVANCETOWN, June 15, 2018, 1.00pm: 40-year-old male motorcyclist died on Nerang-Murwillumbah Road and Parkway Drive.
13. ADVANCETOWN, July 25, 2020, 1.00pm: 4 people killed car accident on Nerang-Murwillumbah Road between Beechmont Road and Latimers Crossing Road.
Originally published as 'I loved them all more than I can say': Sister's heartbreaking tribute