Hundreds of mourners farewell Falkholt family after Boxing Day crash

People arrive at St Marys Catholic Church for the funeral of Annabelle Falkholt and her parents Lars and Vivian Falkholt, Concord, Sydney. 10th January, 2018. Photo: Kate Geraghty The coffins of the Falkholt family members arrives at St Marys Catholic Church for the funeral of Annabelle Falkholt and her parents Lars and Vivian Falkholt, Concord, Sydney. 10th January, 2018. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Even under the buckling burden of unimaginable grief, and with the coffins carrying three of his closest relatives just metres in front of him, Paul Ponticello still somehow found the strength to think of others.

With hundreds of mourners packed into St Mary’s Catholic Church at Concord on Wednesday to farewell Mr Ponticello’s sister, Vivian Falkholt, her husband Lars and their daughter Annabelle, Mr Ponticello began an emotional eulogy by thanking those who risked their own lives in the moments after the devastating crash that would claim his relatives.

Strangers to the Falkholts who now hold a place in the hearts of their surviving families.

The Falkholts were killed in a horror Boxing Day crash on the Princes Highway on the South Coast – the doting parents instantly while 21-year-old Annabelle survived for three days before succumbing to her injuries.

Daughter and sister Jessica, 28, remains in an induced coma unaware of her family’s heartbreaking fate.

Mr Ponticello stood tall as he thanked emergency services and four civilian rescuers who “risked their own safety to drag both Annabelle and Jessica from the wreckage just before the vehicles exploded in flames”.

He later recounted: “The irony of this tragedy is that Lars was such a careful driver.

“Whenever he asked me how long it would take to drive somewhere, I would suggest an average for a normal driver and then some additional time for the ‘Lars Factor’.

“We always had a good laugh.

“Their lives ending on a highway makes absolutely no sense.

“We take little comfort in knowing that they are together and always will be.”

The Falkholts were returning to Sydney following a brief holiday when they were involved in the two-car collision south of Sussex Inlet.

“A day that will be difficult to erase from our memory,” Mr Ponticello said.

The driver of the other car, Craig Whitall, also died in the crash.

Mourners also prayed for Jessica, the 29-year-old actress who had been beamed into lounge rooms during her stint on Home and Away, “as she battles through her recovery”.

Mr Ponticello told the congregation how Vivian, who was born in Italy before migrating to Sydney, found true love in Lars, who emigrated from Sweden in 1981.

They married in 1986 before the girls arrived – Jessica in 1989 and Annabelle seven years later.

“Lars and Vivian were both immersed in the girls’ lives and appeared to be inseparable,” Mr Ponticello said.

He added Lars, a retired Qantas engineer who would have turned 70 last Sunday, was a brilliant husband and father.

“[Lars] was never happier than when he was with them. Lars could paint the girls’ bedrooms, service their cars and then cook dinner for everyone all in the one day,” Mr Ponticello said.

“That is the sort of father he was. All his friends and relatives thought that was something he would enjoy for the next 30 years.

“But sadly it is not to be.”

Mr Ponticello spoke fondly of his older sister.

“Although we never lived in each other’s pockets, we had a deep mutual love and respect for each other which allowed each of us to get on with our lives,” he said.

“I always thought that we would both grow old together knowing that we would always be there for each other.”

Annabelle, who loved the arts and had a passion for travel, was remembered as a kind and radiant person who loved life.

“(She is) someone who people were drawn to … she loved to laugh and the sound of it is something many of us will carry for the rest of our lives,” her close friend Brittany Macchetta told the service.

Annabelle’s grieving boyfriend, Jordan Brohier, spent more than 15 minutes cutting a lonely and heartbreaking figure behind the hearse carrying his beloved girlfriend in a white casket, wiping his eyes as others attempted to console him.

A service for Lars Falkholt, due to be held in Sweden later on Wednesday, will show a video of a prayer held at the Concord service.

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