No parent should ever have to go through what Yana Stevens has and is still going through – a life without her beautiful little girl by her side. Olivia Stevens was just 6 years old when she died in a horrible accident during a playdate at a friend’s house. ( dies during a playdate )
Yana was only a few minutes away, picking up Olivia’s older brother from a birthday party when her daughter’s life was taken due to an off-road vehicle accident.
For Yana, her husband, Scott, and their sons, Kobi and Thomas, their lives will never be the same. But through her absolute devastation, Yana shares what happened in hopes to bring the dangers of ATV and off-road vehicles to light.
‘I’ll be fine, mum.’
In September 2021, Olivia and Yana packed up the car to go to Olivia’s friend, Emily’s house. Emily and Olivia had become friends in kindergarten and Emly’s mum and dad, Damian and Abbey Gibson, had invited the family over for a play and a BBQ.
The Stevens had become good friends with Damian and Abbey and the families often did activities together. The Gibsons, who have five children, lived in a property in the rural town of Rosedale, nearly 200km east of Melbourne.
The girls enjoyed the morning and afternoon together while Yana and some of the other adults at the BBQ watched. Yana had to pick up her son, nine-year-old Kobi, from a birthday party about 20 minutes away around 4 pm.
Olivia was swimming with her friends and wanted to stay in the pool.
I asked her if she wanted to come with me,” Yana recalls to 7News. “She just said, ‘Don’t worry – bye Mum, I’ll be fine.”
This was the last conversation she and Olivia ever had.
Her first and only ride
As Yana headed out to pick up her son from an art studio – where the party was held, her daughter was killed.
While the specific details of what exactly happened have not been discussed, seven of the children, including Olivia, got onto an off-road buggy, with Damian Gibson at the wheel.
This was the first time Olivia had been on an off-road vehicle and Yana was not aware that Damian would be taking the kids on a ride.
My daughter only had one ride on it in her entire life. She didn’t even finish [it],” she tells Mum Central.
None of the children were wearing helmets. The buggy flipped.
Olivia was crushed. She suffered critical injuries.
As Yana drove back to the property with her son in the car, she noticed flashing blue and red lights speeding toward her.
I had to keep pulling over for all of these police cars and ambulances,” Yana recalls. “I never thought they would have been going to help Olivia.”
Yana thought it might have been a bushfire nearby but then her phone rang. It was the police. Olivia had been in an accident. Paramedics were performing CPR. Yana was told to get to the property as soon as possible.
‘Her colour was all wrong’
By the time Yana arrived at the scene, a helicopter had landed and emergency crews were preparing to take Olivia to a hospital in Melbourne.
The little girl’s heart was beating but she was unconscious.
They let me walk over to her and give her a kiss,” Yana remembers.
“Her colour was all wrong. She was cold. I wanted to ride in the helicopter with her and hold her hand but they told me I couldn’t in case they needed to resuscitate her.”
Yana was told to meet them at the Royal Children’s Hospital, a nearly two-hour drive away. As expected, she was too distraught to drive so a friend took the wheel. About half an hour into the drive, her phone rang. It was the police again, advising her that the helicopter was about to land.
They told her to get there as soon as she could, not to worry about finding a park, just park anywhere.
“I knew something was wrong.”
When Yana arrived at the hospital, her husband Scott and Olivia’s grandparents were also there. As soon as they alerted the staff that they were there to see Olivia, Yana knew.
Their eyes…They just looked down. I knew … I knew. She said someone will be with us to take us down and I was hoping she (Olivia) was just in surgery and she was fighting. But a doctor came and asked us to sit down.”
Olivia died in the hospital from her injuries. Her heartbroken parents were forced to say goodbye to their only daughter, their little princess that day.
Their little girl, who loved her brothers so much, who had recently spent a week on a tropical beach holiday and who hadn’t even finished a full year of school, would be forever six years old.
They spent three hours by her side, painting her nails and brushing her hair, two things she loved to do. They spent the next two weeks preparing her funeral. They will spend a lifetime missing her.
Some days it hurts so much her absence and realisation that I won’t hear or hug her again that I don’t know how to survive another minute ..and other days I’m doing ok knowing I will see her again on the other side ..Such a nightmare for us all.,” Yana shares on her Facebook page.
She was so full of life, she was so much fun. We had so much planned, so many dreams and we are just realising it has all crashed.”
Seven children on ATV
Olivia was one of seven children on the ATV. She was the only one to suffer fatal injuries.
A four-year-old girl was airlifted to hospital with serious upper-body injuries but she survived. Five other children, three girls and two boys, were assessed by paramedics at the scene and taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries
Damian Gibson, who was driving the ATV, has been charged with culpable driving, dangerous driving causing death, reckless conduct endangering life and recklessly causing injury.
When I left the house I never thought anything like this could happen as (Emily’s mum) Abbey was always quite cautious. I didn’t know they were going to take the kids on a ride.”
In a previous interview, Yana explains that, due to ongoing legal proceedings, she is unable to speak to the Gibsons. However, Abbey shared how devastated they are over what happened.
We are just so sorry, it was a terrible accident,” Abbey has previously told The Herald Sun. “We did everything we could to save Olivia. We are just absolutely heartbroken.”
Aren’t for joy rides
In the midst of her grief, Yana is urging other families to be aware of how dangerous off-road vehicles can be.
They are dangerous and heavy vehicles, and if they pin a child down it could be fatal. People need to know that these buggies aren’t safe, they aren’t for joy rides.”
Our hearts are absolutely shattered for the Stevens’. We ask that parents take Olivia’s story as a reminder that off-road bikes are not meant for fun. They are not designed for children. No one should have to go through what Yana and her family are going through.
For more information on ATV, quad bikes and off-road vehicle safety, please visit The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.