Woman’s fiance dies, history repeats itself

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A woman whose fiance died in a crash has opened up about losing her new partner just a few years later in the tragic Hunter Valley bush crash in 2023.

Georgie Copeland considered taking her own life after her fiance Lachlan Proctor died in an accident in 2020.

She managed to get her life back on track and started dating Zach Bray.

But she said she hadn’t heard from Mr Bray the night after he attended a wedding in Lovedale, 20km west of Maitland in New South Wales, on 11 June 2023.

Talking to host Ellidy Pullin on theDarling, Shine!podcast, which focuses on women and loss, Ms Copeland said she called her mum the next day when she hadn’t heard from Zach.

Her mum told her about the coach crash which immediately concerned her.

“Zach was on that bus,” she said to her mum, despite his presence having not been confirmed at that point.

“(But) I just knew it. I just f***ing knew it”.

Ms Copeland said she felt “cursed” with two of her partners dying in similar circumstances.

Of the 35 people on the coach, 10 died, including Mr Bray, with the remainder injured. This month manslaughter charges were dropped against the driver, Andrew Button, 59, who instead pleaded guilty to 16 charges of furious driving causing bodily harm, 10 counts of dangerous driving causing death and nine of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.

In late 2020, Ms Copeland and Mr Proctor had their wedding organised and were discussing having children.

Then, on December 4, he was involved in a major crash. He would later die from his injuries.

Ms Copeland told the podcast she became suicidal and spent some time in a medical facility. Then she met Mr Bray.

By June 2023, after some back and forth, they had made the decision to be together.

“We had this beautiful date organised, it was going to be a big romantic reunion… it was going to be this big thing and we were so excited,” she said.

“He had a wedding that he was going to the weekend before, in the Hunter Valley, so our date was the following weekend”.

From the Lovedale wedding, Ms Copeland said Mr Bray sent her videos from the dance floor and they texted.

Then the next morning, nothing. Ms Copeland assumed he was hungover.

It was then that her mother asked about whether she had seen the news “about that awful accident in the Hunter Valley?”

Panicked, Ms Copeland phoned her boyfriend’s phone but it rang out.

She then rang Mr Bray’s mum, Jackie.

“And Jackie answered and she was in tears and her and her brother were driving down to (the Hunter Valley) and she was so shocked.”

Mr Bray’s death sent Ms Copeland back into her fragile mental health state.

“I’ll never understand the senselessness of how people’s lives can be just ripped away like that. Beautiful, good people,” she told on Darling, Shine!

“I went back to a very dark place. I thought, ‘I’m cursed’. I also thought, excuse my language, “Who the f*** is going to want to date this girl?”

“I don’t come with baggage, I come with a proper ‘griefcase’.”

Ms Copeland said she went travelling and said set about life as if for her too it could be short.

“You go to bed one moment, you wake up and anything could happen.

“I am lucky to have been loved by Lachie Proctor. I am lucky to have known Zach Bray. I’m not cursed. I’m the luckiest human alive,” Ms Copeland said.

“I’m not special, I’m like every other person. I’ve just had some terrible things happen to me, as do other people”.

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