Not notified for 15hrs: Mum of crash victim demands answers
WHEN Nathan Deacon moved to Mackay to turn his life around, he didn't forget about his mum back in Victoria.
He phoned every day and was always there for her, his three sisters and his two young sons, aged five and four.
But no-one in the family was there for Nathan when he died in Townsville Hospital after a traffic crash just north of Bowen late last year - and that breaks Tracy Deacon's heart.
Nathan was driving alone from Mackay to Cairns for work on November 3 when he received a call advising him he had been successful in a job application with a mining company.
This changed his plans. He turned the car around and headed back to Mackay. But Nathan never made it to Mackay that night. There was no first day of a new job. The last time his mother heard from him was when he sent her a text with a teddy bear and love heart emoji and said 'I love you mum'.
According to a Queensland Police spokesperson, between 9 and 9.30pm, Nathan had been travelling south on the Bruce Highway, near Guthalungra, when his vehicle collided with a small concrete culvert and he was ejected from the car.
Tracy said a woman passing by saw his car on fire, pulled over and then heard "someone moaning in the bushes". The woman then sat with Nathan for half an hour until the ambulance arrived.
"When the lady found him, he was in a pretty bad way. But he was talking to her saying 'please don't leave me', 'what happened to me?', 'I can't breath properly'," Tracy said.
"That broke my heart. I know I didn't fail him, but I can't get out of my head that I did. My kids are my world and I wasn't there for him when he needed me."
Police reported the 30-year-old had sustained serious injuries as a result of the crash and had been taken by ambulance to Bowen Hospital. He was later airlifted to Townsville Hospital where he was pronounced dead as a result of his injuries.
Haunted by the thought that she wasn't there for her son when he needed her most, the grieving mum just wishes she could have been by his side, and she has questions for the authorities she believes didn't act quickly enough to enable that.
Tracy said her son didn't die until 4am and in the seven hours between the crash and his death, no one in the family was contacted. The alarm was raised for her when people recognised his car in online news articles as the morning progressed.
In an emotional panic, she said she contacted every police station and both Bowen and Townsville hospitals, desperately trying to seek information.
"No one would confirm or deny anything and would not release this information," she said.
A family friend who happened to be at Townsville Hospital at the time was the first to learn of his death, Tracy said. She passed the information on to the Deacon family, confirming their "worst fears".
However, Tracy said she wasn't officially notified until 3pm the day after the crash, when Victorian Police arrived at her door.
The grieving mother flew to Townsville on November 6, but said she spent three days pacing the corridors, denied access to see her son.
She still has no answers to her questions. She doesn't know how her son crashed and why she had to fight for information about his death. She said she was still fighting to have his wallet and phone.
"I'm on anti-depressants now and I've never been on them in my life. I feel like I'm sinking badly," Tracy said.
"I can't recover until I get answers and I don't think I ever will. I've felt so much pain and loss."
Tracy is still holding on to Nathan, who was her only son. She said the family was still in the dark and until they found answers, the healing process could not begin.
"It's not goodbye. I just said I'll see him on the other side."
Townsville Hospital and Health Service acting chief executive Kieran Keyes said the hospital had no current or outstanding information requests from Ms Deacon and offered his sincerest condolences to Ms Deacon for the loss of her son.
He said that if a person died in a hospital there were two very different pathways based on whether it was a 'reportable death'.
"If it is a reportable death the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the Coroner, this includes any viewings of the body. In Coronial cases the responsibility to notify the next of kin sits with the Queensland Police Service," he said.
"Bowen Hospital falls within the Mackay Hospital and Health Services and any comment on the clinical care should be directed to that service or to Retrieval Services Queensland."
A Queensland Police Service spokesperson said police had finalised investigations and submitted a report to the Coroner and were awaiting advice.
"As the matter is before the Coroner it would not be appropriate for police to make a comment which could pre-empt the Coroner's findings," the spokesperson said.
"The Officer-In-Charge of Bowen Police Station has contacted the mother of the deceased to discuss the matter."