Sitting quietly at the back of the funeral of 14-year-old Mona Ioane, Justina Nicholas knew the pain of the boy’s parents.
Mona died in a head-on motorbike crash early on Sunday morning, that also killed the 28-year-old man coming the other way, Amit Kumar.
So too, Justina Nicholas’ daughter Vetina died in a head-on motorbike crash, less than five years ago. Vetina, a champion traditional dancer, was just 16.
The bike she was riding collided with another one on the town side of the Punanga Nui market, close to the Ruatonga meeting house, on July 23, 2015.
The driver of the other bike was charged – and acquitted – of drink-driving causing death and injury. The court was told he had been driving at speed from Avarua towards the airport and crossed into the path of Vetina’s motorbike, coming the other way, but the defence claimed they were riding side by side.
Justina Nicholas isn’t interested in finger-pointing – but she does think that there’s one important change that might save lives: making the wearing of helmets compulsory for everyone, old and young, tourists and locals alike.
The 54-year-old grieving mum said a compulsory helmet law would reduce the numbers of deaths on the roads.
“I don’t think the current law is working because even the older ones are dying from road accidents,” she said.
“It should not only be compulsory for drivers but passengers as well. It is not only the drivers who get injured.”
Nicholas said parents should not have to bury their children – it should be the other way around.
As a parent, though, her comfort during her time of grief was always God – and she always cherished Vetina’s memory close to her.
Her death, though, was not a good memory to keep – especially the death in an avoidable accident.
“You build on good memories to help you get by,” she said. “I still feel the pain; five years has gone.
“But as a parent I think parents should also talk to their children get them to open up, break the wall of silence, keep them busy. We can only do so much to spend time with them.”
Attending the funeral of young Mona yesterday was like going through her own daughter’s funeral again, when she had to bid farewell to her daughter for the last time.
Seeing Mona Jr’s parents, Mona and Grace Ioane, made her sad because she knew what they were going through yesterday.
“I feel for the parents, I see the father Mona and it is sad. The pain does not hit until everyone has left, has gone to their homes and it hits you – he’s gone, she’s gone.
“We just have to take it to the Lord to comfort us, it is sad to lose them, especially like this. One minute they are there talking to you and the next minute they are gone, no goodbyes. It is sad.”
She urged parents to pray for their children.
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