As actor Jessica Falkholt continued to fight for her life in Sydney’s St George Hospital this morning, three of the most important people in her life were laid to rest just 14km away.
Parents Lars and Vivian Falkholt and their daughter, Annabelle, were farewelled by hundreds of family members and friends at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Concord, before a private internment.
Photographs taken at the ceremony show mourners clad in black, huddled around three hearses. In each, a coffin adorned with roses and lilies – pink for the 21-year-old, white for her parents.
Today’s funeral comes 15 days after the Falkholts were involved in a horrific collision near the town of Sussex Inlet on the NSW south coast. The Ryde-based family had reportedly been on their way home from a Christmas getaway when their Mazda slammed head-on into a 4WD drive on the Princes Highway.
Lars, 69, and Vivian, 60, were pronounced dead at the scene, while their two daughters were pulled from the wreckage shortly before it erupted into flames.
Annabelle, a digital marketing assistant, was airlifted to Liverpool Hospital with critical injuries. She died there three days later.
Her older sister, who played Hope Morrison on long-running television soap Home and Away, is reportedly in a coma, having undergone multiple surgeries, including the removal of a kidney and a portion of her skull. A hospital spokesperson said the 29-year-old remains in a critical condition.
Speaking to the congregation this morning, Mrs Falkholt’s brother, Paul Ponticello, thanked the brave motorists for risking their own lives in an attempt to save the women.
“(It’s) a day that will be difficult to erase from our memory,” he told the service.
In his emotional eulogy, Mr Ponticello told the service what a safe driver Lars was.
“The irony of this tragedy is that Lars was such a careful driver,” he said.
He explained that whenever he would give directors to Lars, he would always add extra time to the drive to allow for the “Lars factor”.
Annabelle, who loved the arts and had a passion for travel, was remembered as a kind and radiant person who loved life.
“(She is) someone who people were drawn to … she loved to laugh and the sound of it is something many of us will carry for the rest of our lives,” her close friend Brittany Macchetta told the service.
While investigations into the crash are ongoing, media reports made much of the fact that the driver of the 4WD, who also died at the scene, was returning from a Nowra methadone clinic at the time of the collision. Ulladulla grandfather, Craig Anthony Whitall, was roughly mid-way in to his hour-long journey when he reportedly crossed onto the wrong side of the road.
Although its not illegal for methadone users to drive with the prescription opioid in their system, they can be charged if the drug is proven to “impair” their ability to safely operate the vehicle.
Whitall’s son, Shane, told Seven News the 51-year-old was an “awesome father, the best”.
“He did what he could and you couldn’t ask anymore of him,” the Ulladulla man said. “That’s all you can ask of anyone, to do the best they can. And in my eyes he did more than that. He was my hero in my eyes, my idol.”
– With AAP.