Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Region Marks Fifth Road Fatality In Six Weeks

By Bronte Hodge

The Whitsunday community has been rocked by a spike in road accidents over the past six weeks, with five fatalities across the Mackay and Whitsunday region, four of which occurred in the Whitsundays.

This comes off the back of a wider eight-month period of fatal accidents that have claimed 10 lives in the region to date, almost half locally within the last two months.

Across Queensland to date this year, 170 lives have sadly been lost on Queensland roads, with 10 deaths alone occurring in the Mackay and Whitsunday area, five of which occurred in the past six weeks.

The most recent traffic accident took place last Friday evening, just south of Glen Isla Road, where a 74-year-old Proserpine man’s ute collided with a truck travelling in the opposite direction.

Less than a month earlier, Oscar Jensen, a 24-year-old Gregory River man, tragically died when his ute left the road on Dingo Beach Road.

Then, on July 11, 47-year-old Proserpine man, Gavin Hussey, tragically passed away when his vehicle collided with a truck travelling in the opposite direction on Shute Harbour Road.

On the same day, Bentley Parsgaard, a 50-year-old Townsville man, was the passenger in a vehicle that collided with a coal train west of Bowen, and he died at the scene.

Prior to this, the community mourned the news that a 29-year-old Mackay woman died after the vehicle she was travelling in rolled on the Bruce Highway at Saint Lawrence.

Detective Inspector Emma Novosel spoke to the community on July 20, saying:

“The loss of one life on our roads is tragic, but the fact that we’ve lost four in the space of ten days is a great concern.”

“We’re just urging drivers to make good choices,” she said.

While investigations are still ongoing as to the cause of the accidents, Senior Constable Bradley Cunningham of the Bowen Highway Patrol said most accidents boil down to the Fatal Five: speeding, drink driving, seatbelts, distraction, and fatigue.

“People are not paying attention when driving, we hear it all the time when we pull someone over,” he said.

“Next week is Road Safety Week, with Operation Saturation taking place across the region.

“No matter if you see us or not, our patrol officers will be across the district, ensuring safe driving.”

Senior Constable of the Mackay Crime Prevention Unit, Stephen Smith said by their nature, crashes happen unexpectedly and very quickly. Lives can be changed forever and permanently. Every single trip, drivers must be alert.

“Every single traffic crash where a life is lost has an enormous impact on the families, community, workplaces and responding emergency services,” he explained.

“Drive with patience, if you are planning to drink, plan not to drive, avoid driving tired in all circumstances and finally, drive to the conditions.”

Sam Kissier, the life partner of Gavin Hussey, who tragically lost his life on July 11 said she was devastated to hear that even more people had died on local roads.

“I’d never want to see any other family go through this, it’s so tragic to see it happen again,” she said.

“I know how they are feeling because it happened to me and my family.

“When I read about the other deaths it took me right back and I relived the whole experience again, it was so sad.”

Ms Kissier said that Gavin had fallen asleep at the wheel and warns other road users about the dangers of fatigue.

“He suffered from undiagnosed sleep apnoea,” she said.

“And I told him to go to the doctor about it, but he didn’t.”

“We all need to drive safely, look out for each other and look for signs, take a break if you feel tired.”

Faces of the tragic road toll: Victims who died on local roads over the last 12 months. Photos: Facebook

Family of Oscar Jensen, who tragically lost his life in July, held a touching memorial on the family property, celebrating a beautiful life lost. Photo: Facebook

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