TV star becomes face of horror road toll
HOME and Away actor Jessica Falkholt and her sister Annabelle were fighting for their lives last night after their parents died in a fiery head-on smash that has highlighted a horror year on our roads.
The deaths of Lars Falkholt, 69, and Vivian Falkholt, 60, and those of another 19 people over the holiday season brought the NSW's road toll to 387 - the deadliest since 2009. It comes as police said they hoped the stark images of this month's fatal crashes would "shock" motorists into driving responsibly.
The close-knit Falkholt family was driving home to Sydney up the Princes Hwy after a short break when police believe a Toyota Prado being driven in the opposite direction crossed to the other side of the road and hit them head-on south of Sussex Inlet.
The 4WD driver, 50-year-old Ulludulla man Craig Anthony Whitall, also died in the inferno as other motorists risked their lives to pull the critically injured sisters from the back of their parents' Mazda.
Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said the photographs of the wreckage from the 18 fatal crashes since Operation Safe Arrival began on December 15 should be a harsh lesson to drivers.
Seven people died in crashes on Boxing Day, including Rebecca Cindy Hampson, 25, whose car left the Pacific Hwy at Glenthorne, south of Taree, and smashed into trees.
"We want people to shock themselves," Mr Corboy, the state's Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, said.
"It's now time to have people thinking that could be me, that could be my family or that could be an innocent person that I ran into.
"We want them to take responsibility. We have gone from disappointed to being angry and that's an understatement."
Popular actor Jessica Falkholt, 28, was flown to St George Hospital and Annabelle, 21, was flown to Liverpool Hospital where they remained in intensive care last night as relatives rushed to their bedsides.
Jessica has appeared in two roles on Home and Away and was also in Underbelly: Badness after graduating from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 2015. Her NIDA profile said she was Swedish on her father's side and Italian on her mother's side.
"They were a very close family and had been on a quiet getaway," a family friend said.
"Jessica is a most beautiful person."
Police said they were "investigating the behaviour" of Mr Whitall just prior to the accident after talking to witnesses but could not tell if he was using his mobile phone because the cars were both incinerated.
Three of the fatal crashes since the beginning of Operation Safe Arrival have involved cars drifting into oncoming traffic on the opposite side of the road.
'The message to anyone looking at these photographs is, 'Will this finally get the message through to you?' " a frustrated Mr Corboy said.
"Will the deaths of these people mean that you will take responsibility and think about others on the road and not just yourselves?"
There have been 387 lives lost on the state's roads so far this year, already more than the total of 380 last year. In the past decade, only 2009 was more deadly with 408 deaths.
Eleven of the accidents during the holiday period involved vehicles crashing off the road and hitting trees or rolling.
Mr Corboy said that the evidence pointed to incidents fatigue, speed and "cases of foolish driving".
"Many of these incidents are totally preventable if people would just slow down, rest and not be distracted during their trip," he said.
So far this holiday period, police have issued 50,252 infringements including catching 13,430 speeding drivers, with a driver from Portugal caught doing 160km/h through the 60km/h works zone outside the new Frenchs Forest hospital.
They have carried out 433,838 breath tests, charging 758 drivers with drink-driving including one woman who allegedly blew almost five times the legal limit after crashing into three parked cars in Summer Hill.