By LUCY ORMONDE
One phone call was all it took to end Sarah Durazza’s life.
It was only a month ago that the 26-year-old was driving down a dark road in northern Sydney, when she picked up the phone and called her mum.
It was at that exact moment that Sarah misjudged a curve in the road, lost control of her car, rolled down an embankment and smashed into a tree.
All the while Sarah’s mum, Fiona, was still on the phone.
Last night, Fiona Durazza told 60 Minutes reporter Karl Stefanovic about what it was like to hear the final moments her daughter’s life.
Fighting back tears, Fiona described the night: “What we heard was Sarah’s voice saying ‘oh shit’ and noises whooshing … the car radio playing and breathing – heavy breathing – and a gasp for air and then the noise … I’ll never forget the whooshing noise going through the phone.”
“I just kept saying, ‘I love you Sarah, I love you, we’re coming! Hang in there, we’re coming.'”
But it was too late.
Fiona and Sarah’s boyfriend, Scott were travelling on the road just a few minutes behind Sarah, but when they arrived on the scene Sarah was already gone. “I jumped out of the car and I ran towards her car and my legs sort of gave way,” Fiona said.
“It was like she didn’t want me to find her or get any closer.”
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and I just said ‘no’.”
Fiona, her husband Paul and their three surviving children Rob, Pete and Laura told their story this week in the hope that it would discourage other people from using their phones while driving.
They don’t want any family – any person – to suffer the way that they have.
“Mum just came through the door saying ‘she’s gone. My beautiful daughter, she’s gone.’ And she just kept repeating that and repeating that. And I’ve never seen my mother like that,” Laura said.
“There’s not one person that hasn’t touched their phone while driving,” Pete said. “But seeing what has happened to my sister, I don’t want to touch it. I don’t want to touch it. I just put it down.”
Research shows the using a phone while driving increases your likelihood of having a crash by as much as 400 per cent. This is because when your eyes are on your phone, they’re not 100 per cent on the road.
Distraction is said to be the reason behind 45 per cent of serious car crashes and 30 per cent of fatal car accidents.
Most of us know that driving and texting or talking is dangerous – but we still do it. According to reports, more than 90 per cent of us still text while driving and 76 per cent of us take photos. We TAKE PHOTOS. While driving.
So what is it going to take for us to stop?
How about this:
The next time you want to send a text while driving, think of Sarah Durazza.
The next time you’re stuck in traffic, think of her devastated family who will never see their daughter again.
The next time you’re tempted to take a quick photo of something cool our the car window, picture the look on Fiona Durazza’s face when she retells the story of her daughter’s death.
Take your phone, throw it in the back seat under your handbag.
Lock it in the boot.
Put it on silent.
Just make sure it’s completely out of arm’s reach.
And ask yourself the question: Is that text/call/Facebook post really worth my life or those of the people in my car?
Of course not.
You can watch the full 60 Minutes episode here.