The accident occurred on the morning of March 9 at about 8:20. The larger golf buggy was traveling on the Great Northern Highway carrying eight passengers with a luggage trailer in tow. The passengers included the driver, five adults, two infants and one toddler from two U.K. families who had holidayed together and were on their way to the airport. Investigators theorize that the driver lost control of the vehicle on a steep descent, and it slammed into a parked Club Car golf cart near the bottom.
The first rescue personnel arrived on the scene shortly after the accident at 8:30 a.m. Inspector Steve O’Connell was among them, and he stated that the site was very hectic. All of the passengers had been thrown from the vehicle and were lying in what was described as a tangled and twisted pile. At least, two suffered critical head injuries, a mother, and her nine-month-old daughter, and were unconscious. According to The Courier Mail, both were still “fighting for their lives” in the hospital the following day.
“There were about 40 people providing paramedic, doctor, and first-aid care to the people injured,” said O’Connell. “It was very chaotic, particularly with the small children involved.”
Three Children Among Injured
Wayne Paxton, supervisor for Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS), was also on-hand at the scene of the accident assessing the situation and providing assistance. “Some of the injuries are quite significant in nature and very concerning,” said Paxton. “We have one person who’s got a closed head injury that’s been intubated that will be flown by the rescue helicopter up to Townsville. We’ve got multiple fractures to limbs on other patients.”
According to a statement released by the company that manages Hamilton Island, the collision was between a six-seat golf cart and a four-seat golf buggy. Three medivac choppers were dispatched to the scene from Mackay, Townsville and Rockhampton to provide assistance to the island’s paramedics and medical staff.
The people most seriously injured in the accident are as follows:
- The nine-month-old girl suffered a critical head injury while her mother sustained several fractures in her legs and a serious head injury. Both were airlifted to Townsville Hospital where they were listed as being in critical condition.
- Two men, one 37 years of age and the other 66, suffered from multiple leg injuries and were taken to Mackay Base Hospital, according to a report from a spokesperson for the Queensland Department of Health.
- A couple with their 10-month-old daughter and three-year-old son were taken to Proserpine Hospital by a police boat. The baby had a fractured leg.
Full Timeline of the Accident
The collision occurred at 8:20 a.m. and first responders were notified at about 8:25 a.m. They arrived only five minutes later to discover eight individuals in a range of conditions. A few had lost consciousness. Many had multiple broken bones, and one was completely uninjured. One male bystander sustained mild injuries when he fainted after witnessing the collision and its aftermath.
“The golf buggy was carrying eight passengers, including five adults, one toddler, and two infants,” said police in one of the first official statements to be released. “The female driver and remaining passengers, two men, a boy and a baby girl have been transported to Proserpine Hospital for treatment of minor injuries and observation,” the police statement said.
The other passengers, both men, had already been taken to Mackay Base Hospital to be treated for leg and back injuries. Among other injuries sustained by the group were face contusions, bodily lacerations, head lacerations, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and several fractures.
Hamilton Island Management Cooperating With Authorities
In the statement issued by Hamilton Island Enterprises, all authorities within the company and on the island are working closely with the Queensland Police Department in its official investigation of the accident, which includes the forensic crash unit.
Hamilton Island is a global tourist destination, and about 1,200 people live there year-round. Although the island has been inhabited for more than 8,000 years, it is noted for its pristine, untouched environment. Although the island hosts several resorts, restaurants, bars and recreational facilities, only one-third of it has been developed. The owner of the island, Australian winemaker Bob Oatly, invests several million dollars in its infrastructure each year, and this includes both trails for walking and for golf carts.
On Hamilton Island, golf buggies are the primary means of transportation, and they are often used as airport shuttles for holiday travelers staying at the popular resorts near the Great Barrier Reef. Staff members drive some of the golf carts, but others are hired directly to guests or are provided free of charge.
Hamilton Island has always warned guests about the possible dangers faced when driving or riding in golf buggies, and one of the most important of these warnings is to obey capacity limits. For example, a two-seat vehicle should never carry more than two people, and a four-seat car should never take more than four.
Golf Cart Safety
The six-seat golf buggy involved in the accident was carrying a total of nine people. All five adults and the toddler had seats, but the infants were being held in their mothers’ arms. Health and Transportation authorities all recognize how dangerous it can be to transport babies in vehicles without the use of specialized safety seats, but some people do not realize that this safety risk extends to LSVs. Even at low speeds, collisions can cause severe injuries, especially when the maximum capacity and safety equipment are ignored.
This is not the only serious golf cart accident to occur at Hamilton Island. In 2008, a six-year-old boy was killed when he was thrown from a buggy. However, you can greatly reduce the risk of accidents by following all traditional rules of driving and reduce the chance and severity of injuries in accidents by using safety belts and installing airbags.
Pic: Courtesy of RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service