herald

Monday 20 August 2018

Premature baby loses parents in car crash

A premature baby girl will never get to go home from hospital in the arms of her loving parents, after a horrific crash has claimed both their lives.

Justin Schollback (42) and Leah James (33) were on their way back home after visiting their daughter Lucy when their car veered off the road and crashed into a light pole in Sydney, Australia.

Before the tragedy, the couple had visited Lucy twice a day at the hospital where she is being treated, the neonatal ward of the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney, since her birth on September 1.

The baby girl, who is only 20 days old, is kept in an incubator as she was born 12 weeks premature, and weighed just 1.3kg.

On the day of the accident, Justin is reported to have held his delicate little daughter close to him while Leah fed her with expressed milk.

The pair were returning home to their house in Kurnell, south east Sydney, last Tuesday, when their V8 Ford Ute crashed into in pole with such strength it split the car in half.

The impact killed them both instantly, and orphaned the couple's first baby together.

While Lucy was Justin's first child, 33-year-old Leah James has left behind five other children, aged between six and 15.

One of Leah's children, Stephen, celebrated his eighth birthday yesterday at a tenpin bowling club with his mother's extended family.

The brave boy said: "I'm happy to have all my brothers and sisters here but it's sad that mum can't come."

His father, Leah's former partner Andrew Loxton, said she had been a very loving person. He remembered how she would often leave notes in her children's lunchboxes saying 'I love you', and how much Leah had cared for her baby daughter.

"Leah was always smiling like a Cheshire cat, so happy to be visiting her little baby girl," he said. "I'd just like to see that smile again."

Mr Loxton recorded a video of Leah and Justin nursing Lucy for the first time at the start of September.

Lucy is expected to stay in hospital until November. She is currently under the care of the Department of Community Services until it is decided who will raise her.

Her parents' funeral is due to take place later this week.

hnews@herald.ie

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