How a car helped family heal after heartbreaking loss
WHEN 18-year-old Chris Keirnan died in a horror roadside tragedy, the hobby he adored gave his family the strength to heal from unimaginable tragedy.
Growing up in a car shop, Chris always loved playing around with spare parts and vintage cars - and no one knew that more than his oldest sister Amy.
In fact, one of his prized possessions was a vintage Valiant he was building with father, Glen.
"He always used to be bush bashing in the Valiants, tearing them to pieces," Miss Keirnan said.
"He always loved cars. The Commodore he lost in the accident is one he saved up and got himself, and then he would build the Valiant on the weekend."
But when Chris' life was tragically cut short, Amy feared her dad may no longer have a renovation buddy.
That was, until he surprised her with a VE Valiant of her own.
The pieces, which had been left sitting in a Warwick shed for 10 years, soon become a way for dad and daughter to pass tools and reminisce.
"We would talk about Chris doing it," she said.
"It was nice to be to be able to reflect, and for him as a dad to know he could still have this enjoyment with us (Amy and sister Ashleigh). It wasn't just a boy thing, he could do it with us girls, too."
When the pair finished the project on Amy's 2016 birthday, Chris was in every detail.
The finished project was even a light blue - his favourite colour.
"It was one of those things you wouldn't often get the chance to do, it wasn't the usual kind of grieving but it really helped," Amy said.
While Amy works in Armidale now, the first thing she does when she returns to Warwick is take it for a spin.
Parents Glen and Carolyn also hadn't given up on the car remodelling yet, now working on renovating Chris' beloved Commodore.
"It is something to celebrate, to see them going again," she said.
"Chris would have absolutely loved it."
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