ON February 23 2021, former Lithgow local Maddie Bott lost the love of her life.
Instead of planning her dream Fijian wedding with fiancé Ethan Hunter, she planned his funeral.
Ethan, 27, tragically died with work colleague Mark Fenton, 50, after a freight train collided with their b-double truck down Eurabba Lane at Bribbaree, approximately 70kms north west of Young.
"They were in a road train truck carting gypsum from one side of a farm to the other," Maddie said.
"The railway crossing where it happened only had a simple 'stop and look' for train signs and the view is obstructed with overgrown grass and a significant amount of trees," she said.
Maddie said Ethan and Mark were both "incredibly sensible and hardworking men" and her heart was shattered.
"Ethan went to work one day and never came home. For the first two weeks I was in complete denial, I just couldn't accept it," she said.
While no one can take away her pain, Maddie is determined to make a difference and prevent other families from experiencing such tragedy.
"My goal is to do just that. I have never thought about myself making a difference I just want to prevent pain so today I am petitioning for lights to be made mandatory at all level crossings at a minimum," she said.
"I know that if lights were on that railway Ethan and Mark would be here today."
Maddie said in Australia only 21 per cent of railway crossings are classified as 'active' meaning they have lights and boom gates. The other 79 per cent are classified as 'passive' which means they only have a stop or give way sign.
"It's 2021, lights on railway crossings should be the minimum requirements, it's disgusting that they're not considering the technology we have, I just can't get my head around it," she said.
Maddie said there was a need to bridge this gap in transport and start fighting for the right to be safe at all level crossings in rural areas.
"There needs to be national standards with basic transport safety, lights should never be negotiable. Otherwise why don't we take away lights at childrens crossings in these small country towns?," she said.
The petition is Maddie's first step to get support and then with the help of Mark's son Hugo Fenton, they will put a motion forward to Weddin Shire Council at the next meeting.
"Hugo and I will also meet with our local member Stephanie Cook who has already been proactive in the past," Maddie said.
"We have to still wait for the Coroner investigation to be completed and depending on what comes of that will be our next step."
Maddie hopes to achieve her goal in getting lights at all level crossings, even though it won't bring Ethan and Mark back.
"We lost already, I will never be able to bring Ethan back but I can fight to make sure I do all I can to prevent anyone else going through the pain I feel," she said.
"This is for you Ethan Hunter and Mark Fenton, I promise we are all going to fight for you, one track at a time."
As a nurse, Maddie says she has seen horrific things and sat with families during the worst time of their lives.
"I often have said I wish I could do anything to take their pain away and right now I would do anything for anyone to take mine away, no one can, but I can do my bit to prevent anyone else feeling like this."
Maddie said her world has been turned upside down and she misses Ethan dearly.
"My heart is shattered, you just never think anything like this would happen to your family.
"Our whole community is shattered. A tragedy like this reinforces the importance of valuing our time with our loved ones," she said.
"I will forever be grateful for eight beautiful years with Ethan, the loved we shared in those years some people will never experience in a lifetime.
"Although our time together was cut short, I will always be the luckiest girl in the world."
- You can show your support and sign Maddie's petition here.
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