Relatives of Warrawong man Jose Ribeiro travelled to a particular stretch of the Hume Highway on Wednesday, in search of a tree.
Once found, they adorned it with a white cross, flowers, and Mr Ribeiro’s hat, marking the spot where the father-of-three died the day before.
Mr Ribeiro’s elderly father and one of his four sisters were among those who made the trip to the roadside spot at Marulan.
His mother could not.
“I think my dad needed to see it for himself, but my mum was too distraught to go,” Isabel Espada, Mr Ribeiro’s sister, told the Mercury.
“Jose texted us on Mother’s Day to say, ‘give mum a kiss’.
“That was the last time I heard from him.”
Mr Ribeiro was driving a pantech truck laden with a friend’s belongings from Melbourne to Wollongong when something went wrong on the roadway about 2.10pm Tuesday.
The truck and a car carrying an elderly couple collided, before the truck left the roadway and slammed into a tree.
The elderly woman was treated by road ambulance; her male companion was airlifted to hospital.
A man who had been travelling as Mr Ribeiro’s passenger was also seriously injured.
He was treated for chest injuries and later airlifted to hospital.
Mr Ribeiro died instantly.
Through their grief, the 46-year-old’s family has been left to wonder what could have caused the crash.
“I don’t know what went wrong,” Ms Espada said.
“We need answers.
“He [Mr Ribeiro] was cautious on the road and police tell me he wasn’t speeding.
“He used to help everybody move, so he was familiar with those trucks.
“He had a heart of gold. He would do anything for anybody.”
“I don’t think my parents can recover from this.”
Mr Ribeiro was born in Madeira, Portugal, and lived with his parents in Warrawong.
The friend whose belongings he was moving was traveling in a separate car in close proximity to the truck, and may have witnessed the crash or its immediate aftermath, the Mercury understands.
The woman’s belongings were left strewn over the roadway.
A crime scene was established and a police investigation into the events of the day are continuing.
A brief will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.
Contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to assist with the police investigation.