‘So many lives’: Death-knock cop’s nightmare job in horror year
Senior Constable Nikki Wright has lost count of the number of doors she's knocked on to deliver death messages to family.
So many horrific accidents, most of them avoidable.
"You get a bit nervous or anxious on the way to the job about how to deliver that message," the officer of eight years, said.
"How to soften it. But it can't be softened.
"It never gets easier."
"You could attend 10, 20, 30, 50. It's never easy having to knock on someone's door having to tell them their partner or loved one, or child has passed away."
As a general duties officer Sen Const. Wright is regularly in a crew that is first to the scene of a fatal crash.
"I've been to jobs where everyone has passed away, their phones are ringing, in my hand ringing and it comes up mum or dad and you know they're never going to answer that phone again," she said.
"And you know that shortly you're going to be knocking on their door to tell them.
"It does get hard, I never want to have that knock on my door."
Sen Const. Wright said police had to be direct with families so there was no confusion as to what had happened.
"We introduce ourselves and we have to confirm they are the next of kin," she said.
"We do have to tell them unfortunately there has been a traffic accident and they have passed away.
"There is no nice way to give that message.
"They freak out, they're screaming, they're crying, they are inconsolable.
"I will stay there as long as I can, as long as they need me to. Because it's life changing."
The Coomera-based officer said fatalities involving other vehicles or trucks or motorbikes could be horrific with people suffering catastrophic injuries.
"They unfortunately may not be in one piece," she said.
"People are trapped in vehicles, people have all sorts of very serious injuries that you would never see before.
"They're not just sitting in a car looking pretty. They are in pieces.
"We unfortunately have to pick that up. We don't want to go and pick up pieces of someone's loved one all over the ground but unfortunately that's our job and that's what we are confronted with when we turn up to the job."
In some cases car crash victims are still alive.
"There's ones that have passed away and there's ones where they are passing away, pretty much in our arms," Sen Const. Wright said.
"Some of them are talking, some of them are not talking. Some of them are screaming messages to pass on to family.
"You have to keep calm and keep the emotions out of it. But we're still human.
"I've had people that said 'please don't let me die', or 'tell my family I love them', 'can you call this person' - very short messages along those lines.
"It is tough. A lot of these fatalities involve young children and that is very tough."
The officer said she would never forget some of the fatal accidents she had attended.
One was a triple death involving young children with their phones ringing as she held them.
The other involved a man dying in a car crash and having to pass on the message to his fiance.
"She was already home that day grieving another family member, waiting for her partner to come home, so they could go out for dinner so she could tell them they were going to have a baby," Sen Const. Wright said.
Many of the accidents were avoidable, she said.
Speed, alcohol, drug and inattention were common factors.
"One misjudgment changes so many people's lives," she said.
"We don't want to go to these jobs. We have to. We would love to never go to another fatality ever again and people just get to wherever they're going safely.
"Just pay attention on the road. Your family, your friends would prefer you get there late than never at all. You don't need to answer your phone, it's not worth your life."
Originally published as 'So many lives': Death-knock cop's nightmare job in horror year