Loss of Fijian elders stuns Canberra family
Ram Deo and Padmawati Deo killed in the car crash, near Holbrook on Boxing Day. Photo: Supplied
A Canberra man has paid tribute to his parents who were killed in a car accident just days after the father’s 70th birthday.
The Fijian community leaders Ram and Padmawati Deo died in the accident on the Hume Highway near Holbrook on Boxing Day.
Their 14-year-old grandson Anav Deo, of Chisholm, was critically injured in the accident and is in Canberra Hospital.
The scene of the fatal accident near Holbrook. Photo: David Thorpe, Border Mail
Anav’s father, Rad Deo, said the accident had devastated his family.
‘‘I can’t believe it’s happened,’’ he said.
Mr Deo was driving his parents, his wife, Lalita, and other members of the family to Melbourne on Boxing Day when their 4WD came off the road near Holbrook and rolled.
Anav Deo was critically injured in the collision. Photo: Supplied
He said he was unsure how the accident had occurred but remembered initially thinking that Anav had been killed.
‘‘I crawled out through the window and then went around and got everybody out,’’ Mr Deo said.
Anav was taken to Gundagai by ambulance and then flown by helicopter at low altitude to the Canberra Hospital because of a head injury.
The St Edmund’s College student had surgery to remove a blood clot and would require more operations but was expected to recover.
Mr Deo’s mother-in-law, Bal Nagamma, is in a Melbourne hospital with spinal injuries. His sister Rajini Kumar is in Canberra Hospital with less serious injuries.
Mr Deo’s parents had been visiting Australia for the Christmas holidays.
They had five children and seven grandchildren and were heavily involved in their local community in Labasa, Fiji.
The couple were both social workers and justices of the peace and Mr Deo snr had received a Queen’s Birthday award, a certificate of honour and the Order of Fiji.
‘‘They were very involved with their children and grandchildren and the community as a whole. Most of the people in Fiji around there know them very well,’’ Mr Deo said.
Mr Deo snr celebrated his 70th birthday on December 22 with family and friends.‘‘He was very proud,’’ Rad Deo said.
Mr Deo snr’s motto was: ‘‘To provide selfless service to the community.’’ His wife’s motto was: ‘‘Work hard and always be happy.’’
Members of Canberra’s Fijian community and other friends visited the Deos at home to provide comfort and support on Thursday.
‘‘The community and the Australians we know have been very good to us,’’ Mr Deo said.
The funeral for Mr and Mrs Deo is expected to held early next week.
Mr Deo said he and his brothers would have to travel to Fiji to sort out his parents’ affairs.