Thursday, September 14, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

School Centenary Turned From Celebration To Tragedy

A 69-year-old man died due to a snake bite while attending a centenary celebration held at Koumala State School last weekend.

The tragic incident occurred around 6pm on Saturday, September 9, when a local grandfather, Donny Morrison, committed a heroic but fatal act.

It was reported that a snake had coiled around the leg of a 65-year-old friend and Mr Morrison didn’t hesitate in trying to pry the snake off the leg. When the incident was recounted by bystanders they said Mr Morrison was successful in removing the snake but at some stage between prying the snake off and taking it away, he was bitten on the arm and the chest.

Bystanders at the event attempted CPR on the man, who had suffered a cardiac collapse. Later, paramedics implemented a defibrillator and worked to resuscitate the man for around 30 minutes. He died on the scene surrounded by friends and family.

It’s believed that the snake was an eastern brown, however, an interview with Queensland Ambulance Service states there is no way to be wholly sure.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Claire Bertenshaw said, “It is hard to say with certainty what type of snake it was.

“It’s very hard for us to identify snakes from the symptoms the patient had.”

Mr Morrison’s friend was also bitten on his leg and taken to Mackay Base Hospital in a stable condition, he was discharged on Sunday.

Mr Morrison’s family sent a message to the school to be shared with the community.

It read, “Thank you to the school and committee that pulled together a wonderful celebration,” the statement said.

“We all enjoyed ourselves, especially Donny who was really happy to have caught up with so many old friends.

“We would like to thank everyone involved with the incident involving Donny, people pulled together in an attempt to resuscitate Don but unfortunately were not successful.

“If you were involved directly in the emergency response please feel free to get in touch and also please seek help if you feel you need to talk through the events that transpired as it was a confronting situation for all.

“Donny was a well-liked member of the Koumala community and will be missed by many.”

Event proceedings at Koumala State School’s centenary celebrations before tragedy struck. Photo credit: Councillor Karen May (Facebook)

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