Kaja Kobal’s story: “That morning I was forced to grow up”
The day I lost my father was a normal summer morning in 2009. I was a carefree 12-year-old girl enjoying my summer vacation at the seaside. Then I got a call from my mom with devastating news – my father had died in a car crash.
After a sleepless night, he had left the house in the early hours of the morning and, while driving on the highway, crashed into a concrete wall dividing the 2 parts of the highway. He had fallen asleep at the wheel. It was not a massive crash, no one else was involved, but he was gone.
My world collapsed and I felt totally lost. My first reaction was disbelief; it took me a while to accept the truth. It was so difficult to continue life without him. That morning I was forced to grow up.
During the course of the 11 years since the crash, my feelings changed a lot, my thoughts changed a lot and I changed a lot. Initially I was angry at the world for making me grow up without a father, but soon I realized that I had to make something positive out of this negative experience. I had always felt a strong desire to help other people, but I did not always know how.
Then I met Robert Štaba from Safe Journey Institute in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Life so far has taught me that everything happens for a reason, so I knew it was the sign I was looking for. Working on road safety prevention activities with other victims gave me an opportunity to use my story and what I learned from it to help and educate others.
I became part of a “family”, and later got the opportunity to participate at the European level with the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims (FEVR). We work together with a goal to prevent other people from experiencing the loss we have.
I wish that in the future the voices of victims in the world will strengthen and play a more important role in road safety. With regard to this, the participation of youth is very important because we can and should be setting an example for other young people to encourage them to drive responsibly – so that our story doesn’t have to become their story.