real life

Grieving husband: I didn't just lose my wife, I lost my family

Daniel Defino thought all his dreams were coming true. After trying for 12 months to have a baby, he and wife Maria had a "gut feeling" she was finally pregnant.

But his world was cruelly torn apart a few weeks ago when a 79-year-old nun, who is believed to have suffered an epileptic fit behind the wheel of her car, ploughed into them. The couple were cycling to Botany Cemetery in Sydney's south-eastern suburbs to visit Daniel's mother's grave when the accident occurred. 

"From what I remember, I got flung forward. She was behind me," Daniel told "The first thing I obviously yelled for was Maria. I couldn't see her because she ended up under a boat (parked on the side of the street).

"She had a few breaths left in her. You could see she was fighting. I was just asking her to come back and not to leave me. I was asking her to stay."

Bystanders desperately tried to help Maria before paramedics arrived, but she died at the scene. Daniel suffered minor injuries, while the nun was treated for shock and taken to hospital.

At Maria's funeral, Father Athanasios Giatsios said a "big question mark" hung over her death: "Why did Maria leave at this young age? Why did God allow for her to leave this earth in such a tragic way? Maria was always a loving person with a beautiful smile who always cared for her loved ones and those who she did not know."


Adding to Daniel's heartbreak, Maria's autopsy has since revealed that she was three to four weeks pregnant when she died.

"It's devastating, to be honest," he told "Its obviously in my mind, it's changed from me losing my wife to me losing my family."

The couple had been married for 10 years and had been desperate to start a family. They'd been visiting a fertility expert who advised them that if they didn't conceive within three months, they should start trying IVF.

"We were due to find out on the Tuesday (after the accident) if she was pregnant … I don't know if I should say we had a gut feeling (she was pregnant), but we did."

Daniel is now campaigning to get laws surrounding the licensing of elderly drivers changed. He is lobbying the NSW government for mandatory annual driving tests and fitness assessments for motorists aged older than 70.

"I believe it should be similar to a P-test with an instructor actually out there with a person testing reflex and reaction times," he said. "It needs to be a thorough test. It's very important as well that they bring in some sort of tie-in with medical records and what medications people are on. We're not bullying elderly people, we're just trying to make the road safer for everybody. We just don't want to be in a situation where Maria's death is in vain."

To sign his petition, click here