Liz Albornoz (left) pictured with husband Victor Simone (right) and two daughters
The heartbroken husband of a woman who was tragically killed when an elderly motorist accidentally accelerated instead of using the brakes has spoken out for the first time.
Events manager Liz Albornoz, 39, was enjoying a coffee with other mums from Epping North Public School at Cafe Si:Zac in Sydney’s north when an out-of-control Holden Commodore ploughed into them at 10.15am on February 28.
Keith Lockrey, 89, was behind the wheel of the car when he allegedly tried to park in a nearby disabled spot but instead plunged down an embankment and ‘pinned’ Ms Albornoz against a wall.
Ms Albornoz was knocked unconscious and treated at the scene before being taken to Royal North Shore Hospital, where her husband and mother held her hand in her last moments before she was pronounced dead at 1.20pm.
Nine others were also injured during the crash.
Speaking for the first time, Ms Albornoz’s husband Victor Simone said he could never forget the moment he rushed to his wife after she was struck.
‘I don’t know if she knew I was there, if she could feel my hand, or hear me … I hope so,’ Mr Simone told Daily Telegraph.
Keith Lockrey, 89, was behind the wheel of the car when he allegedly tried to park in a nearby disabled spot but instead plunged down an embankment and ‘pinned’ Ms Albornoz against the wall
Mr Simone also made a heartbreaking confession that although he hopes to one day forgive the driver, he hasn’t been able to yet.
‘I don’t want to feel hate, I’ve never met the driver. My priority is to help my daughters grow, to try to continue life as normal although it can never be the same.
‘The driver has asked to meet me through the police, for now I can’t — perhaps one day that will change.’
He said he can’t help but wonder about ‘what would have been’ revealing that his wife was thinking of increasing her workload to five days.
If she had done so she never would have been outside the cafe on that fateful morning but at work instead.
Police are continuing their inquiries and have not yet charged Mr Lockery following the fatal accident.
Mr Simone has called on more regular driving assessments elderly to avoid a similar incident.
Mr Simone (left) said he hopes to forgive the driver who allegedly killed his wife (right) and mother-of-two but said he still can’t face him
Mr Simone (left) and wife Ms Albornoz (pictured). Mr Simone’s and his wife’s mother held her hands to comfort her in her last moments before she was announced dead at 1:20pm
Ms Albornoz worked as an events manager for non-for-profit organisation Social Ventures Australia (SVA).
She wanted to ‘build a fairer Australia’ by volunteering at charities such as Helping Hands, as well as Sydney Catholic Schools, according to her SVA profile.
‘I have always been passionate about helping others and looking for opportunities to volunteer,’ Ms Albornoz wrote on her profile.
‘At SVA I am able to bring together my interests and skills and work with people who share the same values. We all care about building a fairer Australia.’
The mother-of-two was highly educated and received her Master’s Degree in Public Relations and Advertising from UNSW after studying corporate law in Spain and Venezuela.
Ms Albornoz wanted to ‘build a fairer Australia’ by volunteering at charities such as Helping Hands, as well as Sydney Catholic Schools, according to her SVA profile
Butcher Ryan Nicholls of Uppercuts Butchery said Ms Albornoz and her husband Mr Simone were a ‘lovely couple’ who tragically lost their lives
Butcher Ryan Nicholls of Uppercuts Butchery said Ms Albornoz and her family were regulars at his shop.
‘They were a good two, yeah, lovely couple. They’d come in here. It’s very tragic for such a young family,’ he said.
‘It’s just one of those tragic accidents, what happened.’
Meanwhile, IGA cashier Istiaque Hussain said Ms Albornoz had visited the supermarket with her two children the night before she died.
‘Everyone knows everyone here. The saddest thing is they couldn’t save her in the end and she had two beautiful daughters,’ Mr Hussain said.
Floral tributes are seen outside the cafe where Ms Albornoz was killed when a car ploughed into the front of the cafe, in North Epping
Ms Albornoz on a skiing holiday with her husband Victor Simone and their two children
Nine people were injured after the elderly motorist’s car ploughed into the mothers’ group, with several suffering broken bones
Keith Lockey accidentally drove into the group after accelerating instead of pressing on the brake
Dozens of flowers and other tributes were laid by mourners outside the cafe where Ms Albornoz died.
Mr Lockey was uninjured but visibly shaken by the incident, according to witnesses.
Baker Sath Thep, from nearby Marcos Hot Bread store, and local newsagent Peter Yaang said Mr Lockrey was well-known in the North Epping community.
‘He’s an old man and everyone knows him around here. He’s a nice man too,’ Mr Yaang told Daily Mail Australia.
Mr Nicholls said the driver was a regular at the shopping complex.
‘He’s a beautiful old man and he’s been through a tough time. Last year, his wife was put in a local nursing home and he always visited her before she passed away a couple months ago,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘He still comes in every week. Everyone knows Keith as a gentlemen, a good bloke you know.
The driver Keith Lockey (pictured) was uninjured but visibly shaken by the incident, according to witnesses