A heartbroken Trudy Roberts holds a photo of her daughter Jasmine Newton.
HEYFIELD mother Trudy Roberts has a small cupboard in her dining room, a shrine which contains the ashes of her daughter Jasmine Newton in a beautiful butterfly-decorated urn.
Around the urn is a necklace Jasmine was to be given for her 21st birthday.
Other items in the cupboard are from the car Jasmine was driving when she collided head-on with a another vehicle.
They include her baby’s dummy, a Coke can, a plaque with an inspirational quote about the power of love — and the phone she was texting on when she collided head-on with a four-wheel-drive vehicle while travelling along a country road near Bendigo.
Beside the cupboard is a cardboard box which contains items from the site of the horror crash which claimed the young mother’s life — a headlight, a piece of twisted metal and the decorated cross Trudy placed at the roadside at the crash site.
Trudy can’t bear to part with any of them.
She is lost in her grief, still struggling three years after her daughter’s death at the age of 20 — just a month before her 21st birthday.
What is most difficult to bear is that Jasmine died needlessly while texting, drifting onto the wrong side of the road.
She glanced up to see she was in the path of a four-wheel-drive appearing over a crest, tried to swerve, but it was too late.
Also in the car were Jasmine’s then seven-month-old son Lucas and her 11-year-old sister Emilee.
Emilee, now 14, bears the physical and emotional scars of the accident.
She suffered a broken wrist, cuts, bruising and a chipped bone on her elbow, and still has scarring on her forehead and legs.
Miraculously, Lucas, now aged three, escaped with some bruising caused by the belts on his car seat.
Trudy concedes it would have been much worse to lose all three of them, but that does not diminish her grief.
She remembers the day she received the call about the accident — October 1, 2012.
Trudy and her husband Shane, Jasmine’s step-father who had been part of her life since she was 10, had been out on a rare lunch date when they returned home and the phone rang.
A Bendigo hospital caller said Emilee and Lucas had been involved in an accident and had been taken by ambulance to hospital.
Trudy asked about Jasmine and they said she had been airlifted to Melbourne
Trudy, Shane, Jasmine’s father Craig Newton and Jasmine’s brother Kane immediately headed there.
“The Royal Melbourne Hospital kept ringing saying ‘how far away are you?’ but they wouldn’t give me any information,” Trudy said.
“They said it was vital to get there as soon as possible.
“We pulled up at the hospital and ran in the emergency doors.
“A doctor eventually came out and said ‘it’s not good -— she’s not in a good way’,” Trudy said.
“He was trying to prepare me for the way she looked but I wasn’t really listening; I just wanted to get to her.
“We went into a ward and there were machines beeping and tubes coming out of her.
“They said there was no chance of saving her, and the doctor suggested talking to her.
“I just didn’t know what to say.”
Shane suggested Trudy tell Jasmine how her son and sister were.
“I told her how Emilee was and that Lucas was OK and just had some bruising on his shoulder,” Trudy said.
“The machines started beeping.
“As soon as I told her the kids were OK . . . I was holding her hand when she took her last breath.
“As soon as she knew the kids were fine she left us.”
Jasmine had suffered severe head and abdominal injuries.
As they left the hospital, Trudy remembers the song Skinny Love was playing on the radio.
She later found out that was the song Jasmine was listening to at the time of the accident.
“It just makes me so angry that something so small and something that could have waited has taken her life,” Trudy said.
Driven to the depths of despair, Trudy has been hospitalised several times since Jasmine’s death.
“No parent should have to bury their child,” she said.
“It is something we have to live with every day.
“I struggle; every day is a battle.
“If I didn’t have Shane and my children now, I would probably be with her.
“A piece of my heart went with her.”
Overcome with grief and disbelief on the day of Jasmine’s funeral, Trudy tried to wake her.
“I told her it’s not a joke any more, you can wake up now.
“I tried to shake her awake.
“People tell me I’m strong, but they don’t see me on my own.
“I try and get out and enjoy myself, but I can’t.”
Jasmine was part of a large blended family, and her death has affected them all.
Her siblings, Kane, Courtney, Caleb, Emilee and Dechlan, are coping in their own ways as best they can, as is her father Craig, who also lives in Heyfield.
Trudy and Shane tell stories about Jasmine, prompting memories which give some hint as to what she was like.
Jasmine as a small child, crying at seeing a bird with one leg and being unable to fix it.
Jasmine older, four wheel driving with Shane, heading up an embankment and locking her door so she wouldn’t fall out.
“She was funny and outgoing,” Trudy said.
“She loved fishing, loved camping, loved her family.
“She was always smiling, she loved helping people and loved animals; she wanted to be a vet.
“She was a girly girl who liked doing blokey things as well; she wasn’t scared to get her hands dirty,” Trudy said.
“She would always say ‘love you, miss you’,” on the phone.
“Jasmine was pretty easy going — she was just a beautiful girl.”
Trudy Roberts with a portrait of her daughter Jasmine on her right shoulder.
Her favourite colour was green and she loved cars.
She idolised her little boy and was a good mum.
“He was the best thing that ever happened to her,” Trudy said.
Now Trudy just has a few of Jasmine’s possessions as well as photos and memories, but she tries to hold her close any way she can.
She and Shane have diamond tattoos.
The song Diamonds by Rihanna was played at Jasmine’s funeral.
“We used the song Diamonds because she was beautiful like a diamond and it just described her,” Trudy said.
Trudy also has a portrait of Jasmine on her upper arm and another tattoo on her lower arm featuring a heart and Jasmine’s birth date and the day she lost her life.
She also wears a butterfly pendant around her neck containing some of Jasmine’s ashes.
Now, most of all, Trudy and Shane want people to realise how dangerous it is to text and drive.
They both become upset when they see drivers texting and have photographed them and their licence plates.
“You can hand that to police,” Trudy said.
“We’re not doing it to be nasty; we’re doing it to stop them killing or injuring themselves or someone else.
“Just stay off your phone while driving.
“If you really need to talk, pull over.”
“It was a 15 minute drive to where Jasmine was going — she could have waited that 15 minutes, but she chose not to.
“We’re left suffering.
“I just keep going because I have to.”
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