Slow down, bereaved father begs

The father of a three-year-old girl, Jessica De Andrade, killed by a garbage truck has appealed to motorists to slow down during an emotional funeral service at Leichhardt, in Sydney's inner west.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Rui De Andrade said friends and family who had offered to do anything for him could not grant his biggest wish, but could do one thing.

"Slow down on our roads," Mr De Andrade pleaded with mourners who packed St Fiacre's Catholic Church in Leichhardt for Jessica's funeral on Friday.

"There's too many people dying unnecessarily because of the way we live. The rush. Getting to work on time, getting there two or three minutes earlier, beating the lights."

Standing behind a tiny white coffin decorated with pink roses and baby's breath, he urged drivers to be responsible behind the wheel and "when you take a corner, go slow".

De Andrade praised Jessica's mother, Somsri Phonguphawech, who had been holding the budding little dancer in her arms when the truck struck. He said her courage since accident on Botany Road, Alexandria, had been amazing.

"She knew her so well," De Andrade said. He reminisced about how much the spirited baby of three had loved playing with Ms Phonguphawech. She would powder Jessica's cheeks with blush and paint the nails on her fingers and toes.

"I'm so sorry I wasn't there to protect you and my little girl, our Curly, our Koala Bear," Mr De Andre said to Ms Phonguphawech, his voice cracking. "Lord God, please forgive me ... have mercy on my family, on my children. Let them be strong and live a full life despite this tragedy."

Daniel, 9, who used to chase a squealing Jessica around the house and Natasha, 8, who'd indulge her with games of teacher and mummy, sat quietly through the mass. They took bread and wine to the altar for the priest to give the congregation during communion.

A violin played Ave Maria as hundreds of mourners stood, one by one.

"This shirt, my shirt was one of her favourites," said Mr De Andrade, lifting a yellow t-shirt of the Thai king with a child. "Whenever I wore this shirt, she'd point at it and she'd say this was me and this, this is Jessica."

He slipped the shirt on over his shirt, then asked the congregation to sing along to Jessica's favourite song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

'Have mercy on my family' (Sydney Morning Herald, 29/7/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (Wikipedia)

30 Jul 2007