Lives erased

from page 1 of The Daily Telegraph, May 1, 1996

by Sandra Lee and Matthew Horan

  The unspeakable devastation of Australia's worst single criminal act was laid before the nation last night by the image of the family that lost more than any other in the Port Arthur massacre.
  Last night Walter Mikac, the man whose wife and two daughters died at the hand of Martin Bryant, told how he had gone to the road where his family died to view their bodies.
  "I actually went to the site yesterday morning to see my wife and children lying on the road," he said.
  "If anybody had been there and saw those bodies strewn all over the place... it's just horrendous."
  Nannette Mikac, 36, was walking up a gentle hill holding her three-year-old daughter Madeline in her arms on Sunday afternoon.
  The road was not far from the historic site in Port Arthur where the massacre began and as they walked along the road they were confronted by Martin Bryant.
  He took aim from as close as a metre away, and fired.
  Nannette and Madeline were killed by the same bullet.
  Six-year-old Alanah ran for her life towards a tree 10m away. Coldly, she too was shot down.
  "To see her body just lying in the gutter like that was... sickening," Mr Mikac said.
  "It's like in one afternoon my whole life's just been erased.
  "Every possible thing that I've done through my life to succeed, and to do something for my wife and children has just been taken away in a very short space of time."
  Mr Mikac, the chemis at the small town of Nubeena, near Port Arthur, was playing golf with friends on Sunday to celebrate his 34th birthday while his wife took their daughters for a picnic.
  He heard the gunshots, at first thinking they were a posthole digger. When he returned home, he heard reports of the massacre.
  "When I'd been out on the golf course we'd actually heard shot and little did we know that that could have been my family being killed," Mr Mikac told Ray Martin in an interview for A Current Affair last night.
  "And when I rang, when we got back, I learned that there'd been some incident at Port Arthur and I rang home and they had not arrived home and straight away warning bells started ringing because I knew they hopefully should have been home at that stage.
  "I found the car and that's when my worst thoughts had sort of came to fruition really..."
  Mr Mikac, who had been married to Nannette for 10 years last December, set up the area's first pharmacy and quickly became a popular member of the tight-knit community of 2000.
  Nannette, a trained nurse, got involved in the tourist industry by hosting night-time ghost tours of Port Arthur.
  But it was the two children who won everybody's hearts.
  Walter's youngest brother John, 23, wept as he told of the two little girls who made everyone laugh.
  "The two girls were very different but they had one thing in common -- if they did anything wrong they'd always be able to make you smile and forget about it," he said.
  "It was impossible to get angry with them.
  "They were the happiest girls in the world.
  "Alanah was the actress -- she was destined for stardom. She had a sign on her door saying 'Future Miss Australia'."
  Mr Mikac said: "If the person who did this was in that restaurant he could not have killed 20 people with a firearm, a normal firearm.
  "What would be the thing I would say to him? I would show him the pyjamas of my wife and my two daughters and ask him how on earth I'm going to keep living without them, I mean, it's just, it's just unbelievable.
  "I just want to plead with every person who has children or everyone is affected and if everyone does a little bit to make sure this doesn't happen to another to someone else again.
  "To lose your whole family... to lose anyone. This may not happen again.
  "This is one her [Alanah's] head bands.
  "It's got some of Nannette's perfume on it as well. She looked absolutely stunning in that with her blue eyes -- they all had blue eyes -- and as Nannette said we made good babies and I just find it hard to think that we can't make any more."

  In the wake of the massacre:
  Police yesterday located the 35th victim of the massacre -- a man found in the ruins of the Seascape cottage;
  Martin Bryant was formally charged with one count of murder in a bedside court hearing;
  Surgeons who treated both the killer and his victims demanded the immediate outlawing of semi-automatic weapons.

[images: "Martin Bryant" (5x6)
"Nannette and Madeline Mikac, Mother and three-year-old killed by a single bullet. Alanah Mikac, Six-year-old shot as she runs towards the safety of a tree." (25x7)
"Happy family... Walter and Nannette Mikac with daughters Madeline, 3, and Alanah, 6." (15x15) ]

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