Love letters to the grave: Teen remembered after fatal walk

 

Young, gifted and beautiful both inside and out, Anna Damjanovic was one of the special ones.

The 19-year-old had moved to Indooroopilly to be with her older sister after graduating from St Andrew's Catholic College in Cairns with a cohort-topping OP2 in 2015.

The academic star - fluent in German and learning Italian - had arrived in Brisbane to study a double degree in business and visual and interactive design.

Quite possibly, the beloved sister, friend and daughter, was walking home from - either from a bus stop on Moggill Rd or a local grocery store - when she was fatally struck by a car on Swann Rd at Taringa.

The tragedy happened on May 19, 2017, about 7.40pm and a coroner's report was this month released, revealing the circumstances behind Anna's death.

 

Anna Damjanovic.
Anna Damjanovic.

 

Each year since the tragedy, loved ones of the promising young woman pay tribute to a life taken far too soon.

"It's hard to forget someone who gave us so much to remember," wrote a woman called Makayla in an online tribute on the anniversary of Anna's death in 2018.

"Anna you are always loved, never forgotten and forever missed."

She left another touching note for Anna the following year - paying sweet tribute to the gifted teen.

"Special memories of you always bring a smile and sometimes still a tear.

"We are truly blessed by the beauty you brought to our lives.

"Love you always, Makayla."

In 2020 another grief stricken loved one wrote: "I thought of you today, yesterday and days before that too.

"God has you in his arms and I have you in my heart."

 

Anna Damjanovic and her sister Lara Damjanovic at an event in 2012. Picture: File/Tom Lee
Anna Damjanovic and her sister Lara Damjanovic at an event in 2012. Picture: File/Tom Lee

 

This year, almost four years since Anna's passing, a coroner's report has been released revealing really happened the night that abruptly impacted the lives of not one but two 19-year-old women.

According to the report, it was a black Volkswagen Beetle driven 19-year-old Vanessa Clark that struck Anna on Swann Rd - it was dark at the time and light rain had been covering the area.

The report noted that "just before that (Moggill Rd) intersection Swann Road dips down and turns right, and then passes over the Ipswich railway line by way of a bridge".

In her report, Justice Christine Clements said Ms Clark, who was driving at the speed limit, noticed Anna was crossing the road slowly, with her head down and "braked as soon as she thought that Anna would not be able to cross the road in time".

"She said that the front of her car hit the pillar of the bridge on the left-hand side, the car rotated and the back hit something, and she was scared she would go over the bridge."

Witness Rekha Kalaiya, who was coming from nearby Taringa Station, told the inquest she recalled seeing slip or swerve, "she heard a really loud bang and saw the car hit the left side of the barrier of the bridge".

The crash site at Swann Rd, Taringa. Picture: Marc Robertson
The crash site at Swann Rd, Taringa. Picture: Marc Robertson

As other witnesses approached they could hear Mr Clark scream and say "I hit someone".

"(She was) hyperventilating and crying".

Another witness told the inquest the shocked Ms Clark said "there was someone on the road", "why didn't they stop?", "why didn't they see me?".

In her report, Justice Clements said "(a witness) looked under and around the car but could not see anyone else in the vicinity."

It was not until someone looked over the bridge they realised Anna was laying beside the train tracks.

"She had fallen 15 metres from the bridge, and officers found her unconscious and not breathing," the report said.

"They were able to resuscitate Anna and she was taken to the RBWH (Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital) by ambulance.

"On examination, Anna was found to have suffered fractures to her skull, right leg, and left shoulder blade.

The bridge where Anna Damjanovic was fatally struck. Picture: Google Maps
The bridge where Anna Damjanovic was fatally struck. Picture: Google Maps

"Her neck was broken and she had a spinal cord injury. She had suffered extensive bruising and internal injuries.

"Despite treatment, her condition deteriorated, and she died the following evening, at 7:02pm on 20 May 2017."

A roadside breath test of Ms Clark returned a reading of zero.

Evidence from Forensic Crash Unit police revealed Ms Clark's car was in a satisfactory condition and she was travelling between 30 and 40kmh when she hit the bridge - the speed limit for that area was 60kmh.

 

Flowers have been left at the site Anna Damjanovic was struck. Picture: Google Maps
Flowers have been left at the site Anna Damjanovic was struck. Picture: Google Maps

 

"The evidence before this court shows that Ms Damjanovic's death occurred as a result of a tragic accident. Neither Ms Damjanovic nor the driver of the car was at fault for the accident. "Rather, a combination of those factors discussed above led to circumstances in which Ms

Damjanovic was crossing the road in the path of a car, and the driver attempted to avoid her but was unable to do so," Justice Clements said.

"I recommend that the Brisbane City Council and Queensland Rail review the area of Swann Road at the bridge and at the intersections of York and Cunningham Street in order to determine whether any improvements to the safety of the intersection could be made, including the height of the chain-link fence."

According to the report, Anna's family remembered their girl as "very artistic, a gifted dancer and pianist... she loved history and the arts and travelling in Europe with her family.

"Anna's unexpected and sudden death at the age of 19 has devastated her very close and loving family".

Originally published as Love letters to the grave: Gifted teen remembered after fatal walk



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