Sharon and Ken Altoft. Mr Altoft was hit and killed by Aron Duffy while working as a traffic controller.
Sharon and Ken Altoft. Mr Altoft was hit and killed by Aron Duffy while working as a traffic controller. Contributed

WIDOW TELLS: Night police knocked the start of my hell

THE widow of a traffic controller killed by a reckless driver has described the past 12 months of her life as a "hell" which started when police knocked on her door at 1.30am to deliver life-changing news.

Sharon Altoft's heartbreaking letter was read in the Maroochydore District Court during the sentencing of Aron Duffy who killed Ken, her husband of 28 years when he hit him with his car while travelling 154km/h in a 60km/h roadworks zone.

Just after midnight on November 7 last year Duffy's actions left Mr Altoft with injuries so horrific Mrs Altoft said she wasn't allowed to see him to say goodbye.

Within 90 minutes two police officers were on Mrs Altoft's doorstep preparing to tell her that her husband would never be coming home from work.

Judge David Andrews sentenced Duffy to six years' imprisonment, but he will be eligible for parole in November 2019.

Aron Duffy, 48, hit and killed Ken Altoft on the Bruce Highway in Tanawah.
Aron Duffy, 48, hit and killed Ken Altoft on the Bruce Highway in Tanawah. Facebook

He has been in custody since the crash and is disqualified from driving for two years.

Mrs Altoft described being robbed of growing old with her husband who was her "soul mate" and "one and only".

"I've lost a part of myself," she wrote.

"I loved him with all my heart".

She said her and Mr Altoft spent their time together cycling, kayaking, gardening - activities Mrs Altoft can no longer do because doing them without her husband is too painful.

"I have so many happy, beautiful memories.

"I thought we would be able to make more together."

Despite Duffy's guilty plea, his family and friends are still left looking for closure that no amount of time behind bars for his killer can provide.

The court's public gallery was packed with Mr Altoft's loved ones, some of which protested loudly when sentence was handed down.

One supporter banged on the window of the dock where Duffy was sitting following the sentencing and told him, "remember my face".

Mr Altoft's niece, Nicole Rutledge, spoke on behalf of the family outside the court house and said they were all "devastated".

"No sentence given will ever be enough to ease the pain and loss we feel since Ken was killed," she said.

"Ken was a good man that deserved to live a long life with his family and friends. He should not have been killed in such a reckless act."

 

Sharon Altoft, the wife of Ken Altoft who was killed by a man driving at 158km/h in a 60 zone, is supported by family and friends as she leaves Maroochydore Courthouse.
Sharon Altoft, the wife of Ken Altoft who was killed by a man driving at 158km/h in a 60 zone, is supported by family and friends as she leaves Maroochydore Courthouse. Craig Warhurst

When asked if the sentence gave the family closure, Ms Rutledge said "not particularly", but "it is what it is".

"We don't have any power over that which is unfortunate."

She described Mr Altoft as an "incredibly generous" man who "enjoyed life".

"His family was his extended family, his friends - everyone was close to him. It's a really tough loss for everyone."

Mr Altoft began working as a traffic controller after he started a small business repairing car dents in 2016 which only offered sporadic income.

He was a cyclist who helped get charity ride TOO MOO 220 off the ground, a keen golfer and motorcycle enthusiast - a father and dedicated grandfather who won't get the opportunity to see his latest grandchild be born.

Mrs Altoft said her husband had always been a "provider" who worked hard for their future together and had "ironically" been killed while working to protect other people.

 

Sharon Altoft, the wife of Ken Altoft who was killed by a man driving at 158km/h in a 60 zone, is supported by family and friends as she leaves Maroochydore Courthouse.
Sharon Altoft, the wife of Ken Altoft who was killed by a man driving at 158km/h in a 60 zone, is supported by family and friends as she leaves Maroochydore Courthouse. Craig Warhurst

"Ken made a choice that night. To go to work, to be productive.

"Aron Duffy made a choice that night, to recklessly break the law to endanger anyone in his path and ultimately kill another human being."

The impact Duffy's actions have had on Mrs Altoft and her husband's loved ones are far reaching and she said she now struggles to leave the house.

"I make myself do things to try and feel normal again, I don't think I know what normal is any more," she said.

 

Nicole Rutledge, the neice of Ken Altoft who was killed by a driver doing 158km/h in a 60 zone, talks to the media outside Maroochydore Courthouse.
Nicole Rutledge, the neice of Ken Altoft who was killed by a driver doing 158km/h in a 60 zone, talks to the media outside Maroochydore Courthouse. Craig Warhurst

"Sometimes I feel like I can't breathe, the grief hits in waves and I feel like I'm drowning.

"It is the last heart shattering thing I think of at night and the first thing I think of in the morning.

"Aron Duffy has spent almost 12 months in prison, I've spent almost 12 months in hell.

"Hopefully as time passes, the pain will ease and we can focus on happy memories and not the horrific way he was taken from us."

Duffy wrote a half-page letter of apology to Mr Altoft's family, but they have refused to read it.

Supporters of Duffy declined to speak to media outside the court house.