For 18 years Daniel May was the light of his mother Leanne's life until he was unexpectedly taken from her after a car accident near his Warwick home.
For 18 years Daniel May was the light of his mother Leanne's life until he was unexpectedly taken from her after a car accident near his Warwick home. Leanne Manwaring

Pain every morning: Dan's death a lesson to enjoy life

IT'S been 16 years since Daniel May died, and while the grief for his mother was no closer to fading, the last thing she was going to do was let it control her family's life.

"The pain is there every single morning, but all you do is learn to live with how you feel," Leanne Manwaring said.

"But I told the kids after it happened, from now, you live your life for Dan."

In 2001, Daniel was returning to Warwick from the Toogoolawah Rodeo when the car he was passenger in struck a tree near the Matilda Roadhouse.

The 18-year-old and his mate Ian Jones died, and two crosses still stand where their lives were lost.

"At 11pm they left Toogoolawah, came home through Gatton, went to Toowoomba, only spent an hour there and had a pie at the Shell," Mrs Manwaring said.

"Dan said to the driver, I'll talk to you until we're home, so don't let me nod off, and they did that all the way home.

"Then at the Eight Mile, Dan nodded off, and the last thought the driver had was 'there's the Caltex, I'm home now' and then he woke up and he'd hit the tree.

"But we had lots of good memories the day Dan died. We had a big conversation, and then he went."

 

Joe Manwaring with his mum Leanne have lived life to the fullest since the death of Dan.
Joe Manwaring with his mum Leanne have lived life to the fullest since the death of Dan. Leanne Manwaring

There was little doubt Daniel was special.

He skirted death once, beating meningitis as a baby, died and was resuscitated, and worked on a picturesque New Zealand Dairy Farm at 16 while other kids his age were in a classroom.

"The owners of the farm still have his room set up as it was when he lived there with a photo of him in there, they just loved him," Mrs Manwaring said.

"They used to laugh, because even when it was snowing in New Zealand he'd be wearing his black Akubra.

"They wrote a special poem for him and flew over for his funeral."

The mother of five admitted there were moments worse than others.

"When my daughter got married, that was hard," she said.

"And kids loved Dan, so when she had her children that was hard as well.

"But you just know he's in a better place."

Amongst the heartache, there was a lesson that came from Daniel's death that would forever change Daniel's family.

"Before he died I was all about work, work, work," she said.

"I couldn't go and watch him play football, because I had to work.

"I stopped doing that because I still had the other four kids, and became more involved in their lives."

And those four kids went on to do amazing things.

"Sarah currently lives in Berlin, and she's travelled since she was 19," her mother said.

"She trekked Turkey by herself."

Joe works at Ryanie for Tyres and has just returned from a ski trip in Japan, Rachael is a teacher in Townsville and Josh, at only 18, is the south-west regional director for futsal.

"They've lived their lives to make Dan proud," she said. "Even though losing Dan was horrible, a lot of good has come out of it.

"Our family just became so much closer together.

"Attitude is what will define your life, and Dan had a good life."



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