Please note this article contains distressing content.
It was a normal morning work commute for Melbourne security officer Michael Piacentini, but for four-year-old Darcey Freeman, it was one of the most exciting days of her life: she was on her way to her first day of school.
Nobody could have anticipated that Piacentini and Darcey’s lives were about to intersect in an unimaginable horror.
That morning in January 2009, Darcey’s father, Arthur, was driving; but then he decided to stop. He pulled his white 4WD into the emergency lane on the West Gate bridge in Melbourne. He dragged his daughter out of the vehicle, and carried her to the bridge’s handrail.
Then he threw her from a height of 58 metres into the Yarra River.
Darcey’s brothers Ben, six, and Jack, two, were still in the car. Her mother, Peta Barnes, who had divorced Freeman the previous year, was waiting at the school for the important occasion. Only moments before, she had called her former husband, worried.
He told her, “Say goodbye to your children.”
Peta never got the chance; Freeman had made sure of that.
But Piacentini didn’t miss a moment of the tragedy. In fact, he got what he’s describes as “a 360 view of the whole event.”
Speaking to SBS’s Insight, Piacentini has now described how the incident changed his life.
[Warning: distressing content] “It’s something that I’ll never forget,” says Michael of witnessing Arthur Freeman throw his daughter over the Westgate Bridge.
What is it like to witness a serious crime? #InsightSBS explores, tonight, 8.30pm: https://t.co/Ulrr9kUqEQ pic.twitter.com/n6DItICZLQ
— Insight on SBS (@insightSBS) April 2, 2018