Our fourth child, Stephen James Aston was born on 31st March 1982 in Young.
He began his education at Young Pre School, then North Young Public School and finally spent a little over a term at the Young High School in Year 7. During his schooling years, he made many friends – some of whom started Pre School with him and continued on. He loved playing all sports at school.
Stephen played cricket every Saturday morning in the Junior Competition in Young, loved following the Rugby League (and played a little of this during the latter years at Primary School). He followed Parramatta in the Sydney Rugby League competitions.
He loved farm life and enjoyed being outside, especially when he should have been doing his homework.
As he got older, he spent most weekends and school holidays helping his grandfather on his farm.
On Saturday 16th April, 1994 Stephen’s accident occurred – he was helping his grandfather who was driving a tractor which was towing a feed mix-all full of grain – they were going to feed the sheep. For some reason, Stephen was sitting on the mix-all in the wrong spot – he was between the tractor and the wheel of the mix-all. The tractor went over a bump evidently, and Stephen fell off and the mix-all ran over him across his torso. Evidently he was conscious for a short time as he yelled out to his grandfather that he had run over him before Stephen collapsed.
The police and ambulance came and transported him to Young District Hospital where the medical staff ascertained that he had lost alot of blood, and had terrible internal injuries. It was no time before the doctors knew he needed to be transported to Canberra Hospital by Careflght Helicopter. I understand it was the first time a helicopter had used the helipad at the local hospital.
When we arrived in Canberra by car a little later, we were met at the door and were taken to a room where we were told that Stephen didn’t survive surgery. He had terrible internal injuries and his liver had ruptured (from being run over).
The next few days were just a blur as we had to arrange a funeral. We had many visitors and people coming to show not only their sympathy, but also their compassion, care and love.
I felt so sorry for Stephen’s friends who had lost a good mate and after a time, I met up with some of his class mates at the Young High School so that was good.
North Young School and the Young High School planted a tree in his memory. Also, each year at the Award Giving night at the High School, a trophy is awarded to a Year 7 student in Stephen’s memory.
The local children who travelled on the Bribbaree bus with Stephen, wanted to plant a memorial garden in our own yard which they did, and a suitable plaque is on a stone. Unfortunately some of the shrubs died during the dry times, but I keep replanting things.
A few months after Stephen died, members of the local Police, Ambulance and Hospital organised a 000 Golf Day which was going to raise money for the Careflight Helicopter Service in Stephen’s memory. It was a great event with lots of money raised. The Police and Ambulance and Hospital members could see what a great job the Careflight Helicopter Service does. Each year since, the Emergency workers hold a similar Golf Day and the money goes towards a local charity.
During the time of the accident and Stephen’s death and for several months afterwards, we were overcome with all the kindnesses shown to us by the medical people, the police and the ambulance service both in Young and in Canberra. They couldn’t have done enough for us and for that, I will always be grateful.
I hear of so many farming accidents, especially involving children. I think though, there is so much more education nowadays involving farm safety. I often think “if only” “what if” but know nothing can bring Stephen back. Laying blame also would not have achieved anything.