RAC ‘Wardrobe of Memories’ a graphic display of lives lost in WA road crashes

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Caitlyn RintoulThe West Australian
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Crash survivor Konnah Ruru in front of the RAC Wardrobe of Memories.
Camera IconCrash survivor Konnah Ruru in front of the RAC Wardrobe of Memories. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

A graphic reminder of the 155 lives lost on WA roads last year will be on display in the Perth CBD from today.

From baby bonnets and wedding dresses to motorcycle jackets, each life taken too soon will be represented with a piece of clothing in the RAC’s “Wardrobe of Memories” at Yagan Square.

For WA, 2020 marked a devastating year with the number of infants and young adults killed in car crashes doubling.

Road crash victims aged 17 to 19 rose from seven lives lost in 2019 to 14 in 2020.

One of those who knows the extent road trauma can have on a young life is Perth man Konnah Ruru.

In 2010 the then 16-year-old he was a passenger in a car driving from party to party when the driver fell asleep while under the influence of alcohol and crashed into an oncoming vehicle.

Crash survivor Konnah Ruru and Will Golsby with the RAC Wardrobe of Memories in Yagan Square.
Camera IconCrash survivor Konnah Ruru and Will Golsby with the RAC Wardrobe of Memories in Yagan Square. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

The vehicle had been overcrowded and, as the youngest, it was decided that Mr Ruru would travel without a seatbelt.

Mr Ruru suffered life-threatening spinal cord injuries and now uses a wheelchair.

Marking a decade on from the crash last year, Mr Ruru now shares his story with WA children to encourage them to consider the impact of peer pressure and how this may lead to dangerous choices on the roads.

He said he hoped the RAC installation would make people stop and think about the risks on the road and the aftermath of emotion that comes from cleaning up their possessions.

RAC external relations general manager Will Golsby said road trauma caused life-long impact on those left behind and the installation formed part of the annual National Road Safety Week initiative.

“Each item in our Wardrobe of Memories represents someone who didn’t make it home to their loved ones, leaving behind hopes, dreams and aspirations they’ll never fulfil.

“The Wardrobe of Memories sheds light on just one of the more difficult parts of losing someone so suddenly — sorting through their belongings.

“We need to look past the statistics and remember the true cost of people dying on our roads – it’s first steps never taken, one less child in a classroom, a life-long marriage or friendship forever lost.”

National Road Safety Week runs between May 16 and 23, with the installation open for public viewing at Yagan Square until May 20 and at Lakeside Joondalup between May 21 and 27.

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