Legacy of fallen Mandurah rider to inspire new charity

A Dudley Park family who lost their son in a motorcycle crash in July are hoping to protect his legacy with a new charity to support fallen riders.

Kylie and Darrin Vernon, who are fighting to keep a roadside memorial to their son Ben Kelly on Mandurah Road in Meadow Springs, have launched Ben’s Legacy, which will also raise road safety awareness.

Ms Vernon said paying attention on the road would save lives and she wanted to stop other families going through what she had suffered since Ben died.

“One lapse in concentration and this is how the rest of our lives will be now,” she said.

“Ben’s two-year-old niece kisses his photo every night before bed and that’s all she’ll know of him.

“I struggle, thinking was he distracted? And that’s just got to be the message for everyone.”

Kylie and Darrin Vernon are refusing to take down Ben's roadside memorial. Photo: Nathan Hondros.

Kylie and Darrin Vernon are refusing to take down Ben's roadside memorial. Photo: Nathan Hondros.

Mr Vernon said the message they were promoting was simple.

“We just want people to realise they’re not the only ones on the road,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a bike or car or tractor or pushbike, just be aware, just see what’s around you.”

In September, the main roads department had threatened to remove Ben’s roadside cross after complaints from people living nearby.

But since mounting a protest to keep the memorial, Ms Vernon said Main Roads had proposed leaving the cross undisturbed until the first anniversary of Ben’s death and replacing it with a park bench in his memory.

She said she would prefer the cross stayed as a reminder to motorists to take care at the intersection.

“If seeing his cross makes you stop and think while you’re driving, then that’s what we’re after, that’s what we’re trying to do,” she said.

Ben’s cross had to be replaced after vandals destroyed it in September.

The Vernons hope Ben’s Legacy will be registered as a charity next year and are planning a fundraising motorcycle ride and car rally in January.

They will be meeting at Ben’s cross on the corner of Mandurah Road and Karinga Street from 9am on January 8, 2017.

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