Life destroyed after bus ride from hell
BILL Peacock can no longer look after himself after a horrific accident on a bus leaving Caboolture train station.
The incident happened when the bus driver sped up on a roundabout, two minutes from Caboolture Hospital, and the tilt of the bus not only tipped him on the floor but an elderly passenger also fell off her seat into the aisle.
"I was wedged under a bus seat with my wheelchair on top of me and was bleeding from the head," he said.
"I had cracked my spine so I couldn't move.
"My carer started screeching at the bus driver and so did everyone else for him to stop.
"The bus driver didn't have a clue what to do."
The carer and other passengers managed to get his wheelchair off him, while carefully keeping Mr Peacock in the same position in the bus aisle.
Although in close to the hospital, the ambulance took 45 minutes to arrive with help.
"They couldn't get me off the bus because their stretcher didn't fit, so they had to get a canvas stretcher and asked others on the bus to help carry me out of the bus," Mr Peacock said.
"With my carer and five passengers, they helped get me out."
Mr Peacock has been in a wheelchair for 20 years and had calipers before that, after surviving polio as a four-year-old.
He is an Order of Australia recipient, after starting his career as a hairdresser. He became president of the Hair and Beauty Industry Association and was an Australian hairdressing champion - all while in calipers.
Mr Peacock has always lived an independent life and the Rotarian is still doing advocacy work and disability consulting.
"I'm in constant pain," he said.
"I lost a bit of independence once I got my wheelchair but could still drive and had control of my life. But after this accident, I have no control and I am totally dependent.
"I can't shower, go to the toilet without my carer, and all because there weren't restraints on the bus."
Mr Peacock suffers post traumatic stress disorder from the accident and receives regular psychological treatment alongside his neurological physiotherapist and occupational therapist.
"I can't get into a bus," he said.
"I can't even get into a taxi without a panic attack so public transport is out.
"My quality of life has been destroyed."
The trauma for Mr Peacock did not end with the accident and recovery: dealing with the court system was the "most frightening thing" he had been through in his life.
"Even though I got a small payout, I've had to spend it on getting a new motor vehicle that my wheelchair can be hoisted into, a new bed, hoist, wheelchair and my carer is needed 24 hours a day," he said.
Mr Peacock has always advocated for restraints on buses - for everyone, not just people with disabilities.
He is aware of others affected by this issue, including a mother who broke two wrists saving a pram that tipped with twin babies, a week after his incident.
"I'm not just bashing the wheelchair argument. I'm talking about everyone," he said.
"I'm talking about the elderly, the frail, mothers with prams, and little kids.
"Public transport is sometimes the only way people can travel.
"The danger is for all of us, stepping on to a bus without seatbelts."