The extended family of Home And Away actress Jessica Falkholt who died alongside her parents and sister in a flaming car wreck say the Boxing Day horror continues to haunt them nearly four years on.
Ms Falkholt, her sister Annabelle and parents Lars and Vivian died when a long-time drug addict veered onto the wrong side of the Princes Highway on the NSW south coast in 2017, slamming head first into their Mazda SUV.
They had just left a family lunch at Ulladulla when their lives ended in a fireball at Bendalong after Craig Whitall, who had a cocktail of illicit and prescription drugs in his system, lost control of his Toyota Prado.
Speaking at the final day of the inquest into their deaths, Vivian’s brother Paul Ponticello read out a statement, telling coroner Teresa O‘Sullivan of his ongoing heartbreak.
“The irony is Lars had an impeccable driving record and was such a safe and courteous driver,” Mr Ponticello said.
“His life and the lives of his beloved three girls, wife Vivian, and Jessica and Annabelle, ending in a flaming vehicle on the side of a busy highway, makes absolutely no sense.
“It continues to haunt me and my family.
“We take little comfort knowing they’re together and always will be.”
Mr Ponticello spoke glowingly of his nieces, describing Jessica as being “courageous” in the pursuit of her acting dreams having just completed a feature film in the lead role.
He described Annabelle as someone who people were drawn to.
Jessica, 28, and Annabelle, 21, were dragged from the back seat of the burning wreckage.
Jessica underwent emergency surgery but could not recover and died on January 17, 2018. Annabelle died in hospital three days after the crash.
Mr Ponticello at times became emotional as he led tributes to his extended family, telling the court of how his sister and brother-in-law had just bought an inner city apartment however never got the chance to move in.
“We thank those that risked their personal safety dragging both Jessica and Annabelle from the wreckage which gave the girls a chance of survival,” he said.
“Also we cannot give enough praise to the police and paramedics who attended the scene.”
He also called for systemic change into the care of drug addicts.
The court has previously heard that Mr Whitall had been visiting several south coast hospitals and medical clinics to seek extra doses of methadone and the antidepressant deptran.
One the day of the crash he had visited Shoalhaven Memorial Hospital asking for more methadone but was instead given four 5mg tablets of diazepam, better known as Valium.
A post mortem found he had a cocktail of drugs including methylamphetaime, methadone, diazepam and antidepressants in his system.
Mr Ponticello said he hoped the inquest resulted in: “Systemic improvements focused on the wellbeing of drug dependent individuals.
“As well as the safety of ordinary people who need to feel secure as they go about their daily lives.”
A statement from Lars’ siblings, who live in Sweden, told of their heartache after they planned to speak to him via telephone and Skype following Christmas 2017 however those calls never eventuated.
They described Lars and Vivian as having the “perfect marriage” and as being “the centre of each other’s universe”.
Ms O‘Sullivan will hand down her findings at a later date.