A grieving father whose daughter was one of five teenagers killed in a horrific ute accident has offered to meet with the parents of the car driver.
Lily Van de Putte, 15, was killed when a Nissan Navara van crashed into two large trees on East Parade in Buxton, south-west Sydney, just before 8pm on 6 September.
She was killed along with her Picton High School classmates Antonio Desisto, Tyrese Bechard, Summer Williams and Gabriella McLennan, all aged 14-16.
The driver and sole survivor, Tyrell Edwards, 18, has been charged with five counts of dangerous driving and remains in jail on suicide watch.
Now, Lily’s father, John Van de Putte, has reached out to Edwards’ parents and offered to ‘give them a hug’, just a week after burying their daughter.
John Van de Putte (left) bravely reached out to the parents of the driver and survivor of a crash that killed his daughter Lilly (right)
Lily Van De Putte, 15, (pictured) was one of five teenagers who died after the car they were traveling in hit a tree and broke in two.
“I just want to give them a hug,” Van de Putte told the Daily Telegraph.
‘No hard feelings, no anger… I need to do it to close.’
Van de Putte said he had heard that Edwards’ parents were “good people” and believed that they, too, were suffering.
‘At the end of the day, they are suffering too, their son is in jail [on remand]’ said Mr Van de Putte.
Police allege that Edwards was using his phone to film a Snapchat video of himself swerving at 90 km/hr, before hitting two large trees that split the van in two, throwing its passengers from the car.
Despite initial reports that most of the young passengers were not wearing seat belts, Mr. van de Putte alleged that all but one of the passengers were wearing seat belts.
Mr Van de Putte hopes to use his grief and work with the government to change traffic rules as part of ‘Lily’s legacy’.
“I would like to see speed immobilizers installed in cars, also for people in their blacks…and repeat offenders, not just P-plating,” said Mr Van de Putte.
‘The technology is there, so it can be done.’
Van de Putte said he wants to meet the parents of Tyrell Edward (pictured), who was the driver and sole survivor of the crash, for a hug. The 18-year-old has been charged with five counts of dangerous driving resulting in death.
On September 16, Mr. Van de Putte described his daughter as beautiful with a “beautiful heart” to hundreds of mourners who attended her funeral, but also shared amusing anecdotes about how she was “not a saint.”
When asked about his last conversation with Lily, the doting father remembered her fondly.
He was about to be taken to hospital ahead of kidney surgery, a relatively standard procedure for people with multiple sclerosis, like Mr. Van de Putte.
Lily was worried, but he tried to reassure her that everything would be okay, giving her one last hug and kiss and saying, ‘You have nothing to worry about. It’s just a simple operation, I love you and I’ll see you tomorrow.’
The father, who is in a wheelchair, recalled: “Then she ran out into the driveway to give me a hug and I left.”
During the night of Tuesday, while he was unconscious, Lily, who was an aspiring electrician, sent him a text message saying: ‘Dad, can I go out?’
He read that message Wednesday morning and said he knew she was gone because he had several missed calls and his son came into his hospital room crying.
Lily’s wheelchair-bound father is overwhelmed with emotion as he places the flower inside the hearse and bids his daughter one last farewell.
A family friend created a GoFund Me campaign for Lily’s family following the tragic accident.
According to court documents, four of the teens were thrown from the back of the vehicle.
They were found ‘a short distance away, trapped by the lockdown’.
Edwards was allegedly unable to extricate himself from the crash, while another victim was trapped in the passenger seat.
Edwards will face the Supreme Court of New South Wales on September 26.