We share community pain

February 21, 2018

The Goulburn Valley community is mourning the loss of Acting Sergeant Gavin Sproule.

On Saturday evening, Shepparton police officer Gavin Sproule got in his car to go to work.

What happened afterwards has shaken towns across the Goulburn Valley to their core, and something that has rendered many to a state of disbelief.

A tow truck driver, who was said to be a friend of the officer, was reportedly one of the first on the crash scene, followed by emergency and rescue services personnel and a photographer who had been attending these sorts of accidents for more than 30 years.

When it was discovered that the man in the car who had not made it to his office was a much-loved and well-known member of the police force, the whole community was hurt.

Those on the scene had been to accidents where they had known the people involved, and this time was not any less difficult, but still they soldiered on.

Shepparton police Inspector Troy Hargadon on Monday shared his admiration for the emergency services staff who were at the scene.

He also did not forget to mention the friends and family of those who knew the woman involved in the accident, and said the community, as a whole, would struggle to come to terms with the tragedy.

Media interest in the event, including from The News, was swift, and on the receiving end of a backlash.

People wondered out loud why images and stories about the accident were released, calling for the ‘‘profit-hungry’’ media’s head.

As journalists who have found themselves covering traumatic road accidents, it is not a scene where any human being wants to be.

Road accidents are often hard to deal with as a journalist or photographer.

You are up close to smashed-up cars, angry people and people being carried away in ambulances or body bags, all to get the story out to a community asking for it.

However horrible the job may be, the media has a role to play when it comes to informing, raising awareness about road safety, and highlighting the fact that it can happen to anyone.

Here at The News, we celebrate the community’s joy and achievements, but we also have a responsibility to portray the tragedies we suffer.

For much of the community, Acting Sgt Sproule was a father, a husband, a friend to many, a hard-working officer and known from Shepparton to Mooroopna, and Cobram to Wangaratta.

But for many at The News, he was a police officer who always had the time.

He was always polite and never rushed a journalist off the phone.

He was a man who had time for everyone.

It is easy to forget that those behind the scenes at the newspaper, or on the radio or television are part of the community, but please don’t forget that we have a heart, and that it goes out to Gavin’s loved ones.

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