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Tragedies spur new group on

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Tannous Daher, 83, in his garden. He was killed in the front yard of his brother-in-law’s Merrylands home by a driver under the influence of legal drugs. Inset, Tom Daher speaking at the launch of the Road Trauma Support Group NSW at NSW Parliament House on 21 November. PHOTO: Screenshot/Supplied
Tannous Daher, 83, in his garden. He was killed in the front yard of his brother-in-law’s Merrylands home by a driver under the influence of legal drugs. Inset, Tom Daher speaking at the launch of the Road Trauma Support Group NSW at NSW Parliament House on 21 November. PHOTO: Screenshot/Supplied

In 2017 Tannous Daher died as he lived, while doing one of his routine acts of charity.

The 83-year-old Maronite Catholic grandfather was helping his brother-in-law landscape his front garden when both were struck by a drug-affected driver who lost control and mounted the kerb. Tannous died at the scene.

His son Tom Daher says his dad was a saint.

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“His whole life he just helped others, he would do anything for anyone, and for him to have died in such a brutal way does rip your heart out,” he told The Catholic Weekly.

“It’s very tragic that we didn’t get a chance to farewell dad, spend any time with his body or hold his hand. 

“But someone did say to me once that a lot of saints died a brutal death and that does provide a little bit of comfort, that that’s the way Our Lord wanted it be. 

“Dad always used to say, ‘Love each other’ and we’re a very close-knit family and we have stayed together and supported each other.”

On 21 November at NSW Parliament House Mr Daher helped officially launch the Road Trauma Support Group NSW with NSW Police and other members of the group set up in 2021.

Its genesis was a conversation he had with then-Crash Investigation Unit Detective Inspector Katie Orr who agreed that unlike other homicide cases there was no help for those who had lost loved ones through a criminal act on the roads.

“Dad always used to say, ‘Love each other’ and we’re a very close-knit family and we have stayed together and supported each other.”

It provides a voice for families who have been affected by road crime, providing a network of specialised counsellors and other support, advocacy for safer roads, and working for legislative reform.

“Prior to 2021 if you lost a loved one due to a road criminal act you were on your own, there was no support,” said Mr Daher at the launch. “Now we have built a safety net … No one needs to travel this dark road of trauma alone.

“Many members have said to me they wish they were never part of this group, however they also say they are most grateful that they are, due to the support that they have received.”

The group is calling for a parliamentary review of road crime legislation, changes to sentencing and the inclusion of victims of road crime in the Charter of Victims’ Rights. 

Attorney-General Mark Speakman asked the NSW Law Reform Commission last month to review road crime legislation, which Mr Daher welcomed as a “step in the right direction”.

Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria’s Grief Care is a major partner of the new support group.

Its managing consultant Patricia Thomas said she thought it was “a miracle” how the support group, while it is for everyone who needs it, came together originally through conversations with people of deep faith. 

They also included Bridget Sakr and Craig Mackenzie and Leila and Danny Abdallah, whose children Veronique Sakr, and Antony, Angelina and Sienna Abdallah were killed by an out-of-control driver in 2020, and Martha Jabbour who is the executive director of the Homicide Victims Support Group (NSW).

“The group keeps getting bigger, but already we can see change happening,” Ms Thomas said.

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