A lean stretch of highway connects the inner-southern suburbs of Canberra to the Tuggeranong Valley. There are no reflectors or street lights, so that in the peak of winter—when the sun’s dipping beneath the Brindabellas at five o’clock—high beams are the only means of cutting through the thick night, the only way to see the road sign that reads ‘Slow Down High Accident Zone’.
At half past nine in the evening, on Thursday 5 July, Diane Morgan, driving down this highway, takes her hands from the wheel, inhales deeply and closes her eyes. Unguided, her Volvo drifts towards the emergency stopping lane, and Diane presses her foot on the accelerator for a slow count of one, two, three. Only then does she open her eyes, ease on the brake and pull onto the side of the road. After checking her mirrors for headlights, she opens the driver side door and steps out of the car. It’s freezing, and the cold bites at her exposed fingers and the edges of her ears.
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