Miracle on opal street

PETALS OF HOPE: Flowers left in the Opal Street gutter had many residents fearing the worst after Tuesday’s accident.
PETALS OF HOPE: Flowers left in the Opal Street gutter had many residents fearing the worst after Tuesday’s accident. Nadine Kennedy

TWO little lives were miraculously spared when their father was knocked from his pushbike and pinned under the wheels of a prime mover in front of horrified onlookers on Tuesday evening.

The other divine aspect of 25-year-old Damien Harris and his young family escaping serious injury may owe a little to the accident site – right outside the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints, on the corner of Loch and Opal streets, Emerald.

“I think there was only a metre between the children and the truck wheels, so all in all, I think it is a very positive outcome for something that could have been so tragic,” said QFRS Emerald station Captain Logan McIntosh, whose crew worked with ambulance officers to free the young cabinet maker.

“I was relieved to get there and find he was still alive and the children were unhurt.”

Mr Harris had his two-year-old son Lachlan and daughter Nikita, one, in a red trailer attached to the pushbike.

They were a regular sight in the neighbourhood cycling down Opal Street on dusk.

Around 6pm, the 34-year-old Bundaberg-based driver of a white Kenworth prime mover failed to give way at the intersection.

He collided with Mr Harris, who was wearing a helmet, dragging him about 30 metres along the bitumen road surface.

Loch Street’s Tracy Poulter was sitting down to dinner when she heard the screech of the truck’s tyres.

“But I didn’t hear anything else, and when I came outside two minutes later there were cars everywhere and I thought what’s going on in our street?

“He was underneath the semi, dragged from the corner and the police showed up, then the ambulances, and then I saw a lady with her head in her hands.

“I didn’t know who she was, but police sat her on the step of the truck and were talking to her.

“Then the fire brigade showed up.

“They put a tarp up when they were pulling him out and I thought it was a pretty good indication he didn’t survive it,” said Tracy, whose thoughts echoed many in Emerald who rang police and emergency service personnel to find out the Mr Harris’ fate.

“I’m very amazed he survived.

“I really honestly thought he

was dead when they put that tarp up.

“And there were two ladies standing there holding the babies and those kids were very shaken up.

“That poor bugger… I can’t imagine he’d ever want to get on a bike again, but he really should go out and buy a Tatts Lotto ticket, I reckon.”

Very much alive and with his wife Fiona at his bedside, Mr Harris was yesterday in a stable condition in the intensive care unit at Rockhampton Hospital.

Amazingly, he suffered only broken ribs and leg injuries, and possible spinal damage.

The couple came to Emerald a year ago from Lismore.

Mr Harris’ boss, Allen’s Cabinets’ Eddie Allen, dropped in for a hospital visit too.

“I just can’t believe it – we’re just thankful he’s okay and that the kids are all okay,” Mr Allen said.

Capt McIntosh said the two bystanders had removed the children from the trailer when firefighters arrived.

“It eased our minds straight away when we arrived and the father was talking to us,” he told the Central Queensland News.

“It became a process we had to follow very slowly to maintain spinal immobilisation.

“The patient was extricated from beneath the truck in a scoop stretcher, which can be put on without moving the body at all.

“There were a lot of people around and the tarp was used to give him some privacy while his injuries were assessed.”

Two posies of garden flowers were placed at the corner on Wednesday, where a plastic pedal and metal remnants of Mr Harris’ bike were all that remained.

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