HORRIBLE: An accident at the Queensland Rail Institute hall carpark took the life of Ailsa Pershouse on December 9, 2016.
HORRIBLE: An accident at the Queensland Rail Institute hall carpark took the life of Ailsa Pershouse on December 9, 2016. Mike Richards

'We were just flattened': Victim speaks out over tragedy

MANY lives were changed on the night of December 9, 2016.

What was supposed to be a joyous Christmas get-together at Gladstone Orchid and Foliage Society turned into a tragedy which left one woman dead and another seriously injured.

After wrapping up her night at the Queensland Rail Institute hall, Elizabeth Gill, 75, left the gathering and got into her idling car, which ws left at the front driveway of the hall by a friend so she could exit the carpark easily.

But instead of moving forward, her vehicle jolted backwards, travelling eight to 13 metres before crushing two women walking to their own cars.

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One victim, 81-year-old Ailsa Pershouse, was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

Ailsa Pershouse pictured in May 2016.
Ailsa Pershouse pictured in May 2016. Helen Spelitis

The surviving victim was unable to speak out about the incident, until now.

Margaret Baldwin, 75, had been known simply as "the other woman" due to court proceedings.

Mrs Baldwin's injuries were severe and her recovery is ongoing.

She suffered five broken ribs, a punctured lung, a bruised liver, and a compound fracture at the bottom of her tibia and fibula, and an ankle that was so damaged there were fears she would lose her foot.

She has spent almost seven out of the past eight months in hospital.

She has lost her independence because she is unable to drive again or walk properly without the aid of a walker.

However, there is no bad blood between Mrs Baldwin and Mrs Gill.

"It was purely an accident," Mrs Baldwin said.

"She didn't line us up and say 'here I go'.

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"I've got no problems with her and I've seen her since... she came to see me at the hospital and she brought me some flowers."

 

The accident at the Queensland Rail Institute hall carpark took the life of Ailsa Pershouse and seriously injured Margaret Baldwin on December 9, 2016.
The accident at the Queensland Rail Institute hall carpark took the life of Ailsa Pershouse and seriously injured Margaret Baldwin on December 9, 2016. Gladstone Observer

As for the night of December 9, Mrs Baldwin can recall very little, and relied on witnesses, friends and family to inform her once she came out of intensive care.

"I vaguely remember seeing the car back in and thinking it was coming too fast," she said.

"We didn't have any warning, that's why we didn't get out of the way - we were just flattened.

"I was knocked out and the next thing I woke up and I was in the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

"The paramedics stabilised me, the Royal Flying Doctors flew me to Brisbane and I was in intensive care for a couple of weeks before going back into the normal ward.

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"Then they sent me to Rocky and I had an intermediate trip back to Brisbane for them to check out everything.

"I then went into rehab in Rocky, came back down to home for about a week, but then had a big ulcer come up on my leg (from a skin graft) so I had to go back to hospital, back to Brisbane where they did my leg again.

"I've been home four and a half weeks since the accident."

 

The accident at the Queensland Rail Institute hall carpark took the life of Ailsa Pershouse and seriously injured Margaret Baldwin on December 9, 2016.
The accident at the Queensland Rail Institute hall carpark took the life of Ailsa Pershouse and seriously injured Margaret Baldwin on December 9, 2016. Gladstone Observer

In an induced coma for a couple of weeks after the incident and then heavily sedated for weeks in the general ward, Mrs Baldwin had to be informed of Mrs Pershouse's death by her daughter.

"My daughter wouldn't let anyone tell me Ailsa died until I came out of intensive care and I gained some of my mental facilities which was probably three to four weeks after the accident.

"It's caused a lot of angst in town and people have come down either side.

"It's just been nasty and I don't want to get involved in that and when it all happened I was in hospital.

"All I want to do is thank all the people who have done everything for me."

 

Margaret Baldwin's letter of thanks to those who have supported her since the December 9 tragedy.
Margaret Baldwin's letter of thanks to those who have supported her since the December 9 tragedy.

Mrs Gill appeared in Gladstone Magistrates Court last Friday and pleaded guilty to one charge of driving without due care and attention or driving without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road.

Mrs Gill's defence lawyer Cassandra Ditchfield said the accident had caused her client many sleepless nights and Mrs Gill was overcome with thoughts of how she could have prevented it.

Mrs Gill was fined $750 and had her licence disqualified for one month with a conviction recorded.


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