RAAF family crash victims supported

THE community is being asked to rally behind a RAAF family devastated by a road accident on November 22 at Rosedale.

The horrific crash claimed the life of Theresa Hutchings, 45, and daughter, seven-year-old Mikayla, and has left eight-year-old Andrew with severe spinal injuries.

Father Robert Hutchings, 47, and Andrew are both in a stable condition in Melbourne hospitals, while youngest son Matthew, four, remarkably escaped unharmed.

Sale’s Guthridge Primary School is supporting the Hutchings family.

Robert has served at RAAF Base, East Sale, and he and his wife Theresa had sent their children Mikayla, aged seven, and Andrew eight, to the school.

The family was posted to the Northern Territory at the end of last year and was excited to be returning to school in Sale next year.

All three children, including Matthew, were enrolled at Guthridge for 2014.

School principal Sue Burnett said the school was shocked by news of the fatality and injuries.

“We are all reeling from this terrible news and feel as a school community that we must do something,” she said.

“Our school intends to donate the entire proceeds of our Christmas raffle to the family to help offset the considerable medical costs they will now face,” Ms Burnett said.

“We are urging the Sale community to support us in our efforts.

“With only three weeks left of the school year, we need to act quickly.

“We cannot begin to imagine how this family and their friends are feeling.

“We are counting on the support of the wider Sale community to reach out to help this family at this difficult time.”

Ms Burnett said monetary donations were being sought from the wider community and were already flooding in.

These could be left at the school office or deposited into the school account marked ‘Hutchings Donation’.

People can phone the school on 5144 3633 for more information on how to donate.

The family of five was travelling from Sale to Melbourne to visit Theresa’s family when their vehicle and car driven by a P-plater collided.

Mikayla died at the scene.

Theresa was treated by paramedics on the roadside to no avail and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Robert and Andrew were flown to Melbourne hospitals, both in critical conditions, while Matthew, four, escaped unharmed.

The driver of the other vehicle, aged in his 20s, from Denison, was also airlifted to Melbourne in a critical condition.

Police from the Major Collision Investigation Unit have been seeking witnesses to the accident.

Robert’s sister Jo Hanson told the NT News the family was hopeful Robert would make a full recovery.

“Physically, he (Robert) will recover, emotionally might be another matter,” she said.

“But I have to say, he is the strongest man, he really is, and he’s all about his kids.

“If anything is going to drive him to get through this situation, it will definitely be those boys.

“He’s an amazing dad.

“That will definitely drive it, just the pure and absolute love he has for his boys and Theresa and Mikayla.”

Family members have flown from Darwin and Perth to be with Robert and the boys.

“The only thing you can think of is how are we going to get through this?” Jo said.

“What kicked in for me is I had to support my brother, my mum and my sisters, and they were all thinking the same thing.

“You just get on a plane and you do it.

“A hug can say a thousand words; a look can say a thousand words.

“You never say I love you enough, but at that time, when you do say it, it really means something.

“We’ve talked and talked and that’s the conclusion we’ve come to, it’s the strength you find from love.”

Jo described Theresa as a “wonderful woman with an amazing heart”.

She said her niece Mikayla “who had her mother’s heart and father’s looks” was non-stop and attacked every day at 100 per cent.

“That’s one thing we’ve taken out of this,” Jo said.

“Don’t wake up and assume the day is given.”