Up to $6m in lawsuits filed over horrific funeral crash

A SCHOOL teacher, a single mum and a heroic man who pulled a child from a collapsing building are among nine people suing a Cape York man for millions of dollars after he crashed his car into his wife's funeral.

Indigenous ranger Garry Paul Hudson, 59, is currently serving a 12-year jail sentence for manslaughter after he twice drove his Toyota LnadCruiser into a Kowanyama house where his wife's funeral was taking place in 2016, killing one mourner and injuring multiple others.

During his 2018 trial the Cairns Supreme Court heard Hudson had been caring for his wife Katherine George during a 15-month cancer battle prior to her death and had become angry her body had been taken to her sister's house despite a pervious arrangement.

Garry Hudson drove his Toyota LandCruiser into a house at Kowanyama while people were attending his wife’s funeral in 2016.
Garry Hudson drove his Toyota LandCruiser into a house at Kowanyama while people were attending his wife’s funeral in 2016.


The crash killed mourner Delanne Zingle, 48.

Nine of those injured are now launching lawsuits in the Cairns District Court against both Hudson and his vehicle's insurer, QBE, claiming between $300,000 and $750,000.

The total amount of the nine claims could be up to about $6m.

Among them is labourer Leslie Errol Gilbert, 51, who despite suffering a broken leg, went back into the heavily damaged house to retrieve an injured young girl, shielding her body before being hit by the car again.

Patients were flown from Kowanyama to Cairns in the aftermath of the crash. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN
Patients were flown from Kowanyama to Cairns in the aftermath of the crash. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN

Kowanyama State School teacher Hazelene Major, 50, claimed she struggles to walk after suffering "traumatic" ankle injuries as she tried to escape the crumbling building, while court documents claimed single mum Lenise Banjo, 37, needs constant help looking after her children and home after being hit by debris.

Bottoms English Lawyers associate Kirsten Lesina said the firm represented 42 people involved in the tragedy, some of whose cases have already been settled.

The Kowanyama community, on the western Cape York coast, has been deeply impacted by the incident.
The Kowanyama community, on the western Cape York coast, has been deeply impacted by the incident.

She said many were facing ongoing medical issues and financial hardship through lost work.

"This was a traumatic event for the community and there will be long lasting impacts, not just physically but psychologically," she said.

"It has affected not only the people who were in the house at the time, but the broader community."

Single mum Lenise Banjo, 37, was among those injured in the crash.
Single mum Lenise Banjo, 37, was among those injured in the crash.

Ms Zingle's immediate family is among the claimants on the grounds of the trauma they have suffered since her death.

Ms Lesina said others included an aged-care worker and a cleaner who had both struggled to work due to their injuries.

She said this was one of the most significant personal injury claims she had dealt with.

Hudson and QBE are yet to file any documents in court.

Originally published as 'Traumatic event': Up to $6m in lawsuits filed over horrific funeral crash


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