Sunday, April 06, 2014

Scarred by tragedy, grieving dad tells of rebuilding his life

Image: From the Bayside Family Cars website.

APRIL always begins with laughs and leg-pulling but it's a month of sadness for Cleveland resident Craig Shemmell. In April, 2000, Craig's daughter Kelly died in a car accident on the Gold Coast, just six weeks after her 18th birthday. She was driving the birthday present from Craig, a car dealer who in the 1980s had sold a big Victorian dealership to move northward for a bayside lifestyle at Wellington Point.
Craig says the tragedy was too much for him to handle – "it knocked me around badly" – and he was unable to 'move on'. "I lost it and had a breakdown," he says. "Then I woke up one day about 12 years ago and thought I better get it back together. "I didn't have any money left but I did have a diamond ring that my daughter had bought." Craig says the ring allowed him to borrow enough money to start buying cars for resale and with the support of Cec Curtis at Birkdale Road Car Sales his life turned around. After several years Craig began trading as Bayside Family Cars, Capalaba. More joy was on the way during that period, with Craig's wife Jodie giving birth to a son, Lochlan, now eight years old and a student at Sheldon College.
Recent advertising in the Motor Vehicles column has heralded a new era. Craig is clearing stock, with a new lessee soon to take over the Old Cleveland Road site. "I started here with just five cars; now we have about 60," he says. "The business is now too big for me." Craig says he has succeeded over the years by stocking the yard, which has been a Capalaba landmark for more than 20 years, with "variety at the right price" and building a reputation for giving buyers choice when they shop for a suitable vehicle. The yard is now expected to trade in vehicles no more than five years old.
Craig's March 18 ad gave an indication of some of the deals on offer during the clearance, with 'as is' trade-ins including a 1995 Pajero $2800, a 2000 supercharged Calais $1500 and 2002 Commodore automatic $2000. Craig says he looks forward to the change after almost 40 years in the motor trade but he will leave Bayside Family Cars on April 30 with that sadness that always hangs around this autumn month as it is the anniversary of Kelly's accident.
This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

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