Son’s shock road death inspires mission to help others
RUSSELL Smulders was holding his son's hand on the way to his first day of school when the unthinkable happened.
A car mounted the footpath and fatally struck his five-year-old son, JR, in Parramatta in 1994.
That tragic day was more than 26 years ago, but it drove Mr Smulders, who now lives in Maryborough, to start the NSW Road Trauma and Grief Care Unit in the aftermath of his terrible loss.
Now the trained counsellor has again put his hand up to help others in the wake of a spate of horrific crashes in the region.
"After being retired for the past three years and seeing the high road toll on Queensland's roads and the lack of specialist road trauma and grief care units, I feel the need to reopen the unit," he said.
He has now registered the Queensland Road Trauma Unit and is reaching out to anyone who needs support.
When Mr Smulders walked out of the hospital in 1994 having lost his son, there was nowhere to turn, no support readily offered and no shoulder to cry on.
He wanted to create a service that would change all that.
Mr Smulders has never wanted money for his services, merely offering an ear to listen and a safe place to grieve.
"This service is totally free to victims' families and individuals and any other support services, including any other emergency services," he said.
He usually doesn't tell people his own tragic story until they ask.
While sharing their grief, people will often ask him a question he has come to expect: why do you offer this service?
It is then that he tells them of the day he lost his son and his determination to make sure no-one else would ever suffer alone.
To contact Mr Smulders, call 0434 093 236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.