Melissa McGuinness finds it hard to grieve her son, Jordan. Not because she didn’t love him profoundly, not because she doesn’t feel his loss as brutally as if it just happened. But because his death was the result of a decision he made, a decision that also cost the lives of four strangers.
Late on December 7, 2012, 18-year-old Jordan Hayes-McGuinness chose to drive home to the Gold Coast from a work Christmas party in Brisbane. Shortly after midnight, his speeding Nissan Pulsar clipped a guard rail on the Pacific Motorway, near Coomera, and collided with the back of a broken-down Holden that sat parked in the shoulder lane.
The Holden burst into flames. Its 16-year-old driver escaped with burns, but his four passengers, aged between 17 and 23, were killed. Among them was a couple, who were parents to a then-15-month-old girl.
Jordan died at the scene. A post-mortem toxicology report concluded there were high levels of alcohol and marijuana in his system.
“That day still haunts me,” Melissa told Mamamia. “I remember going to bed that night, about midnight. I’d cried 25,000 rivers by that stage, and I was trying to go to sleep, but all I could see was Jordan. I couldn’t get the image out of my head of Jordan lying dead, cold and alone… The whole thing was amplified by the fact that I knew there were four other families probably doing the same thing.”
Throughout the coronial investigations that followed, it was revealed Jordan was on a restricted license following a low-level speeding fine. According to the coroner's report, a friend also told the inquest Jordan had previously driven while under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, none of which Melissa nor her husband, Peter (Jordan's stepfather), had been aware of.
Jordan had shown a pattern of reckless driving that, on that December night in 2012, had the worst possible conclusion.