THE euphoria of Queensland’s Maroon-wash of the Blues in the third State of Origin clash was lost on the boys from Bluff Rabbitohs, huddled together on Wednesday night thinking about the welfare of their team mate, gunshot victim Lenny Comollatti.
The 36-year-old was lying in the intensive care ward at Rockhampton Hospital waiting for another operation to a stomach wound after his former wife Jade Quilligan, 22, opened fire in a Gracemere house on Tuesday night, fatally shooting the couple’s eight-month-old son, Anthony, before dying in a single vehicle accident.
In 24 hours of unimaginable horror, pain and bewilderment for the Blackwater and Bluff communities, the news of Curragh miner Lenny’s condition and the death of Blackwater mum Rebecca Robe in a quad bike incident on Wednesday was an emotional double whammy.
Rabbitohs’ life member and Bluff stalwart Pat Ohl was still coming to grips with watching Lenny score a try against the Emerald Tigers at McIndoe Park on Saturday night and knowing his football days are probably over.
“The community of Bluff is just in shock, and the same goes for the whole Blackwater district, just trying to comprehend what has happened,” she told the Central Queensland News.
“You read about it in the news, but when it’s so close to home you just realise how devastating it is.
“But the support in these little towns is absolutely magnificent, and that’s all you can do – support Lenny because he’s got a long road ahead of him, and we all hope he has the strength to go on with it.
“He was a dedicated family man and just a hell of a nice guy and… our prayers are with him.
“It was a really tragic day
around Blackwater and Bluff because there was more than one fatality.”
It is believed Lenny, who was involved in a bitter custody battle with Ms Quilligan, has fathered more children.
Mrs Ohl said he lived in Blackwater but saw the children who lived in Rockhampton at every opportunity; even if it meant long commutes on the Capricorn Highway.
Rabbitohs’ president Wayne Saunders said Lenny, and his two brothers, Angus and Quinton, were part of the soul and spirit of the club.
The Rabbitohs’ family, added Mr Saunders, would be there to help in any way it could.
“The boys are pretty shocked by the whole thing because they’ve known Lenny for so long,” he said.
“He is such a quiet bloke, but very community minded and a very family oriented man.
“A couple of them went to visit him in hospital when they heard.
“We watched the football on Wednesday night, but it was a very sombre affair.
“My wife and I were talking about it; how devastating it would be for anyone in those circumstances, and then you find out it’s someone you know and it’s just numbing.”
Wayne said Lenny and Rabbitohs’ coach Kelly Conway were instrumental in organising the first multicultural knock-out league competition held at Bluff last year.
As a mark of respect, Mr Saunders said Lenny’s No 13 jersey would be retired for two or more matches.
The team will wear black armbands for the game against the Gemfields Giants this week, and the home game against Clermont on July 17.
“I think the game against the Giants will go ahead this weekend, like the guys said, Lenny would never want us to stop playing under the circumstances,” said Mr Saunders, admitting it could be hard to make up the numbers.
“At the home game we intend to have a minute’s silence for the family.”
Yesterday, Lenny was in a stable condition in hospital, as autopsies were carried out on his son and ex-wife, who police say died from massive head injuries sustained when the utility she was driving hit a tree soon after the shootings.
Detective Inspector Jon Wacker said forensic tests would be carried out on a small handgun found in the vehicle.
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