Family ‘betrayed’ when 11-year-old killed by train after she escaped care facility: Coroner

Alex Raichman loved to chase birds, run fast, climb and play.

Alex Raichman loved to chase birds, run fast, climb and play.

Braverman said Alex had “a very passionate desire to live” and he wanted to “breathe, play, feel things, eat, soar high in the air, be with his family and his friends.”

“He’s not alive now, he’s not breathing, he’s not playing in the sun, he’s not playing in the rain,” she said.

“There is no possible reason why Alex should have died. He would have had a long, joyful, meaningful life, enjoying nature, being with family, in a safe group home, or at home, or a combination of these.

“I had as many dreams for Alex’s future as parents did for their normally developing children – the dreams were different, but meant the whole world to me.”

Braverman said a child’s life isn’t redundant just because they live with a disability, and she doesn’t want her son to be considered “unfortunate collateral damage from a broken system.”

She would happily trade for the rest of her life so that Alex had five minutes to play. “Alex my love, I’m so sorry I left you there,” she said. “Mom is sorry.”

Grahame made numerous recommendations, including that Civic does not provide replacement respite care for people under the age of 16.

Rachel Martin, 27, and Riley Shortland, 8, died in November 2017 when they were hit by a truck on the M1 Pacific Motorway near Cameron Park.

Rachel Martin, 27, and Riley Shortland, 8, died in November 2017 when they were hit by a truck on the M1 Pacific Motorway near Cameron Park.

The inquest also investigated the deaths of Riley Shortland, 8, and his temporary carer Rachel Martin, 28, who died in a separate tragedy in November 2017 when Riley – who was developmentally retarded – unbuckled his harness and got out of the car on the freeway. M1 near Newcastle.

Rachel, who was pregnant with her first child, stopped in a hard shoulder when Riley began to unfasten his seat belt. He ran into traffic and she followed courageously, but both were fatally hit by a truck.

Grahame said the deaths were preventable tragedies. She recommended a number of policy changes for the agency that looked after him, SNAP, including the use of two people in a car when carrying a passenger with one-to-one needs.

Other policy changes included having a driver contact emergency services or a designated support person if they needed to stop near a major highway.

Riley was described as an affectionate, creative and talented boy who loved the outdoors, running and water games. His death had a profound impact on everyone who knew and loved him.

Grahame said Rachel was funny, kind, smart, generous and looking to the future. Her untimely death – “in the prime of her life with so much to live for” – left her loved ones in deep and ongoing pain.

Grahame expressed her sincere condolences to all three families.

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