Decade on, community remembers
ROCKHAMPTON’S Kay Becker will never forget the late-night phone call 10 years ago telling her what had happened in the Marlborough helicopter tragedy.
Today, Kay will join the community in Rockhampton to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy.
Five lives were lost in the early hours of July 24, 2000, when a Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service unit crashed while attempting to land near Marlborough in Central Queensland.
The crew of pilot Paddy O’Brien and paramedics Craig Staines and Bill Birch had just retrieved five-year-old patient Anthony Sherry and his mum Susan from their property north-west of Marlborough after the boy had difficulties breathing.
They were on their way to Rockhampton Hospital when forced to land in poor weather so Anthony could be taken to hospital by road in an ambulance.
Tragically, all on board were killed when the helicopter crashed while attempting the landing.
Kay, who was the executive officer of the rescue service and is the only surviving staff member who still works with the organisation, said it was a tragedy that affected the whole community.
“I got a call in the middle of the night telling me what had happened,” Kay said yesterday.
“It was horrendous, absolutely awful.”
She said the weeks after the tragedy were tough.
“The whole community was really affected,” Kay said.
The strength of community support helped everyone move forward.
“We have moved on, we had to,” Kay said.
“It was important to look forward at the time, not back, that’s what Paddy would have wanted.”
QAS Commissioner David Melville said the Memorial Service, to be held at the North Rockhampton Salvation Army temple, was an important opportunity to pay respect and celebrate the memory of colleagues who made the ultimate sacrifice as well as remembering the tragic loss of Anthony and Susan.
“The events in Marlborough 10 years ago were a terrible tragedy that caused widespread devastation across the QAS and the community of Central Queensland,” Commissioner Melville said.
“I would like to convey my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost a loved one that terrible day.
“Queensland Ambulance paramedics willingly risk their lives on a daily basis in the hope of saving others.
Tragically, in incidents such as the Marlborough crash, our dedicated officers paid the ultimate price and made a sacrifice, which will never be forgotten.”
The Queensland Ambulance Service will hold a Memorial Service today to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Marlborough helicopter tragedy.
The service will be held at the Salvation Army Temple, 131 Park Street, North Rockhampton from 10.30am.