Love & Family

Aussie Mum’s heartbreak – ‘I ran over my baby girl’

So tragic

Lara had the perfect family life, then the unimaginable happened

Here, Lara Ellis, 27, from Perth, WA, shares her stoy in her own words.

Watching my girls, Indiana, three, and Aurora, 19 months, playing with their Barbies, I felt a rush of love.

‘They look so cute,’ I gushed to my hubby, Preston.

‘We’re very lucky,’ he agreed.

Our two girls – who we called Indi and Ora – were like chalk and cheese when it came to personalities, but they were best friends.

Indi was very girlie and loved staying indoors playing with her dolls.

Sassy and strong-willed, she was a tough little character.

But she had a very caring side that was even more obvious when Ora was born.

‘Let me help, Mummy,’ she’d say.

As Ora grew, we started to see her cheeky, laid-back personality.

She adored being outside and would run around the backyard with the chooks.

She even helped Preston do our decking, passing her daddy the screws as he laid out the planks of wood.

And she idolised Indi.

Having a family was all I’d ever dreamt of and I felt like I’d won the lotto with my two gorgeous girls.

Life was great.

Then, one day in June last year, we were having Preston’s parents over for dinner. As Preston prepped food, I said I’d pop to the supermarket to pick up a few extra bits.

Heading towards the door, Ora toddled down the hallway, wanting to join me.

‘Leave the girls with me, it’ll be easier to shop,’ Preston called out.

‘Okay, babe,’ I said.

At the shop, I grabbed everything we needed and drove home.

Me and Ora
Me and Ora (Credit: 7NEWS)

As I pulled up to our electric gate, I pressed the button on my key for it to open. Then I checked that the girls weren’t playing on the front decking before slowly reversing the car into our driveway.

But as our 4×4 went back, I felt a sudden thump.

What was that? I thought, driving forward again before stopping the car. Stepping out, I noticed Ora’s bright green onesie on the ground.

Then I realised it was Ora lying there.

‘Preston! Preston!’ I screamed, collapsing next to my girl.

It looked like she was peacefully sleeping.

Preston came running out.

‘Call an ambulance!’ I demanded.

‘It’s too late, she’s gone,’ he cried, picking her up.

I knew he was right but I couldn’t believe it.

‘No, she’s not, call one,’ I pleaded. ‘They can fix her.’

I sobbed as I held her lifeless body. 

How could my little girl be gone?

Aurora and Indiana Ellis
Our gorgeous girls

Minutes later, Preston’s parents turned up and his dad comforted me as the ambulance and police arrived.

Paramedics pronounced Ora dead on our drive.

Shaking and shivering, I wept uncontrollably as I tried to process the utterly unthinkable thing that had just happened.

I had run over my baby girl.

I went to find Indi who was hiding under a doona and looked completely traumatised.

‘It’s okay,’ I said, trying to be strong for her.

Police said they wouldn’t even be investigating as it was obvious it had been an accident – they could see how broken we were.

The next few weeks were hell as we struggled through the grief.

Preston and I worked out that the girls had managed to slip through the front door when they heard the electric gates opening.

Poor Indi had seen her sister get knocked down.

Both Preston and I feel an overwhelming amount of grief for what happened to our girl.

 

Aurora Ellis
Life will never be the same again

I blame myself.

‘We can’t think like that,’ Preston tells me. ‘I could say the same because I was in the kitchen – no-one is to blame for what happened.’

But I still struggle to not feel responsible.

It’s now been seven months since the day from hell and life is still so hard.

The horrific scenes play around in my head.

Some days are particularly bad for me, while others are worse for Preston.

Indi breaks my heart when she asks, ‘Where’s Ora?’

The Ellis family
Me, Indi, Ora and Preston (Credit: 7NEWS)

Despite the trauma, I am determined to make sure no other family experiences this sorrow.

I urge parents to make sure their side gates have spring-loaded locks, and front doors have a high latch that kids can’t reach.

If a door is broken, make it your priority to fix it.

Preston and I are also campaigning for Aurora’s Law, which will mean all cars in Australia, including second-hand ones, are fitted with reverse sensors and cameras.

This is to make sure what happened to Aurora doesn’t happen again.

But don’t wait for it to become the law. I urge everyone to get sensors now.

I’ve had people on social media say that I’m a bad parent and ask, ‘How could you accidentally run over your child?’

I would have thought the same until it happened to me – I’m proof this can so easily happen to anyone.

Aurora's Law
Our campaign to save young lives

In Australia, about one child a week dies or is seriously injured on a driveway – we need to put a stop to that. 

Nothing can bring back our gorgeous, happy-go-lucky Ora, but I hope that sharing our story can save other families from the pain and suffering we continue to endure.

Find out more about Aurora’s Law here

Related stories