Dad’s heartbreaking wish after Port Arthur massacre
WALTER Mikac, whose wife and two daughters were shot and killed in the Port Arthur massacre, has revealed the heartbreaking wish he had on that horrific day in 1996.
Mikac's wife Nanette, and daughters Alannah, 6 and Madeline, 3, were among the 35 people killed by Martin Bryant on April 28.
Nanette had pleaded with the gunman not to hurt her babies.
In a moving episode of Anh Do's Brush With Fame, Mr Mikac said he remembered saying to friends as they tried to comfort him, "Couldn't he have even left me one?"
Mr Mikac also recalled the moment he found out his family had been killed and said he wanted to die alongside them.
Mr Mikac was playing golf when he first heard about the shooting. He rushed to the Port Arthur Historic Site where he knew his wife and kids were going that day for a picnic.
"I was looking around the site and I found our car in the carpark," he told Do. "It was like a war zone. It's hard to describe really. People were in shock. It was just an awful place to be at that time."
At the time, Bryant still hadn't been apprehended, so Mr Mikac and a group of his friends were told to stay in a house at the site which had been deemed safe.
"In my heart I had a sinking feeling which wasn't good about the whole day," he said. "I was expecting something bad but you can never expect it to be that situation."
After a wait that felt like an "eternity", Mr Mikac was finally informed that his family had been killed.
"Pam, the local doctor who was friends with Nanette, came in and told me that Nanette and the children had all been shot and were all dead," he said.
"My initial thought was, 'I just want to go as well. I don't want to be here if they're not here.' My instinct was to actually run out into the site and hopefully die with them."
As his friends tried to comfort him, Mr Mikac remembers saying to Pam, "Couldn't he have even left me one?"
Tears streamed down Do's face as Mr Mikac described what his wife and children had gone through on the day.
"The car with the gunman came up the hill. Nanette was running with the kids. She was carrying Maddie. There were other people around who overheard her saying, 'We'll be safe if we just keep running and we're away from here.'
"The car stopped and the gunman got out. She pleaded with the gunman for the childrens' lives. She said, 'Please don't kill my children.'
"He shot her and then he shot the children. Alannah was hiding behind a tree and he actually went up to her and shot her there."
When he woke up the morning after the massacre, Mr Mikac told Do that he had hoped it was all just a bad dream, but the reality of what had happened quickly came flooding back to him.
"I was in the bed on my own, it was my birthday," he recalled. "I reached into the bedside table and there was a little card of a father holding a little baby in its arm.
"When I opened the card there was nothing in there, there was no writing. I thought, 'This really has happened.'"
Mr Mikac came face-to-face with the man who took his family away from him when he attended Bryant's trial.
"To sit at court have the person plead not guilty to all those charges, I remember thinking as I was sitting there, 'I just want to jump that dock and I just don't want him to be here anymore.' But that wasn't going to bring them back," he said.
"What would have been the ideal scenario is that he (Bryant) died in that whole event and there wasn't that trauma."
A year after the massacre, Mr Mikac established the Alannah and Madeline Foundation which has since helped two million children and their families nationwide.
"I wanted to make change happen as a result," he told Do. "That was the pivotal thing; let's not let an event like this happen, and if it does, let's minimise the possibility that it's going to be as bad as this."
The foundation cares for children who have experienced or witnessed serious violence, aims to help reduce the incidence of bullying, cyber bullying and other cyber risks, and advocates for the safety and wellbeing of children.