November 15, 2018 13:12:23
A couple who were knocked unconscious when an out-of-control train was forcibly derailed in Tasmania in September say the state rail operator offered them “blocks of chocolate”, flowers, pizza and other items following the incident.
“TasRail have sent them two $100 Woolworths vouchers, two blocks of chocolate, some flowers, a few text messages and replaced Bronwyn’s glasses … and paid for one physio class for Steve,” Ken Hayes, father of Bronwyn Carrick, said.
“That has been about it, which is pretty poor I think.”
Ms Carrick, 27, and Steven De Boer, 40, were walking to an appointment and enjoying the view by Devonport’s waterfront precinct when they heard sirens.
“We didn’t think too much about it, we thought it must have been a fire or something,” Mr De Boer said.
But within five minutes both would be unconscious, struck by debris caused by the 110-tonne TR11 locomotive run by Tasmania’s state rail service as it smashed through a fence.
TasRail has said its chief executive had “initiated contact” and had “provided Bronwyn and Steve with his personal details”, following two visits to the couple.
Ms Carrick said TasRail had also offered to give them pizza and some more flowers on AFL grand final night, but they declined.
The couple have opened up about their experience to the ABC for the first time since the out-of-control locomotive pulling eight wagons came to a crashing halt shortly after 9:00am, resulting in “significant damage”.
“I saw it out of the corner of my eye and I’m thinking ‘that’s not stopping’,” Mr De Boer said, visibly shaken as he recounted the moment.
“Next, it hit the barrier, hit the fence, I’ve just automatically shut my eyes and hoped for the best.
“I screamed to my partner, ‘run’, but it was too late. Then I blacked out.”
The couple said they were knocked unconscious by the debris, and woke up as ambulance officers rushed to their aid.
“Next thing we knew, we were in the hospital and we were discharged out the back after about three hours,” Ms Carrick said.
“We’re just in shock about the whole thing.”
Mr De Boer suffered from a torn muscle in his left arm and still struggles to lift light objects, while Ms Carrick has recovered from bad bruising.
But both said the injuries were more than skin deep.
“Every time we go to sleep or close our eyes we’re constantly seeing the train … it’s just a replay of what happened,” Ms Carrick said.
The 220-metre-long freight train, carrying cement, was forcibly derailed after a transmitter used by a TasRail worker failed — causing it to speed, unmanned, towards Devonport from a train yard in Railton 21 kilometres away.
Police were running and driving alongside the train as it careered along the tracks for more than nine minutes, before a “decision to route the runaway train into the dead-end siding at Devonport was actioned,” the Australian Transport Safety Bureau preliminary report found.
Ms Carrick’s father Ken Hayes got a phone call at about 9:30am, which he struggled to comprehend.
“Bronwyn said she was in hospital with Steve and had been hit by a train, I thought it was a joke, it just seemed so far from reality,” he said.
He rushed to Burnie Hospital, where he said the “staff were great”, but added he thought the couple were “discharged too soon”.
Mr Hayes said TasRail had been “poor” in supporting the family after the incident.
“TasRail have sent them two $100 Woolworths vouchers, two blocks of chocolate, some flowers, a few text messages and replaced Bronwyn’s glasses … and paid for one physio class for Steve,” he said.
The ABC asked TasRail to respond to those details, and in a statement the state-owned company said it was “distressing” the pair had been injured.
“TasRail chief executive officer Steven Dietrich spoke with the two individuals shortly after they were released from hospital,” the spokeswoman said.
“Mr Dietrich subsequently visited Bronwyn and Steve twice and spoke to them on the phone on a number of occasions.”
Mr Dietrich “initiated the contact to show care and support,” the spokeswoman said.
“He also provided Bronwyn and Steve with his personal details, as well as other relevant TasRail employees, and encouraged Bronwyn, Steve and/or their family to make contact with TasRail at any time.”
The ATSB is expected to release its final report on the incident in late 2019.
November 15, 2018 12:01:29