Saving lost dog would be 'silver lining': crash victim's mum
THE family of a 34-year-old man who died in a car crash in the North Burnett region on Monday are still desperately trying to locate their son's missing dog, who hasn't been seen since the accident.
However, they have been encouraged by the finding of fresh footprints this morning around a stump to which a jacket belonging to their son had been tied.
Owner Simon Hannan's Holden Jackaroo was t-boned around 11.15am as he turned onto the Burnett Highway from Wuruma Dam Rd, around 20km from Eidsvold.
He died a short time later.
Mum Jan Hannan, who flew in from Perth on Wednesday with step dad David McDougall, said it would be a "silver lining” if their son's "best mate” Merlin, a black two-year-old kelpie cross, could be found.
"We can't bring him back, but we can do something for Simon by finding the dog,” Mrs Hannan said.
"We're pretty confident Simon is watching,” Mr McDougall added.
The family has been joined by Mr Hannan's far north Queensland ex-girlfriend, who also owned Merlin, and three of her friends who also knew Mr Hannan, plus his brother Jason, from South Australia.
"She's been quite a big part of her (Merlin's) life,” Mr McDougall said.
"When she's found, that's who she'll be going to.
"We can't take her home, she doesn't have a home. Her home was where Simon was.”
The search party have scattered items of Mr Hannan's around the area to create a "scent trail”, left food and water, including a rotisserie chicken, one of Merlin's favourite snacks, and this evening will play Metallica, Mr Hannan's favourite band, to try and coax Merlin out of hiding.
"She was in a horrific car crash. She's copped the same sort of forces that Simon's copped,” Mr McDougall said.
"She was in the car across the road until the door was opened. As soon as she could get out of the car she bolted.
"You've got to try and put your place in her paws. She has only been moving, we reckon, only 500m a night, if she's been moving.
"She doesn't want to move. She wants to stay in the area.
"There's been a lot of attention down here and it's been the wrong sort of attention, people shouting out.
"We need calm, quiet and relaxed. We think she's sitting in the bush probably 50-100m away watching us. She's that close.”
Mrs Hannan described her son and Merlin as "quite a solitary unit”.
Mr Hannan lived a nomadic life for the past 15 years, travelling all over Australia with no fixed address.
"Simon had a massive infection when he was 14 or 15 (and had a) crook hip from it,” Mr McDougall said.
"He was limited with it. His lifestyle was going from place to place.
"He was probably about as close to the land as you can get.
"He's built a huge network of friends, all rural people.”
Mrs Hannan agreed.
"He could sit with anybody and make a connection,” she said.
"You look at the photos of him and there are so many different personas.
"He could connect to people in any walk of life.”
The family has received help from an unlikely source.
Monto and Kalpowar locals Dianna Relf and Carmel King arrived this morning to help with the search and they will camp overnight at the scene of the accident.
Ms Relf, a qualified pet obedience trainer said it is "not uncommon for dogs who go through trauma, and this is quite surprising, to return to the scene of the accident at night.”
Ms Relf said she is prepared to "invest a lot of time” into finding Merlin.
"I'm the type of person (who will) help anybody, anywhere,” she said.
Ms Relf's friend Ms King said she was inspired to help through the loss of a Jack Russell terrier puppy she owned called Matey, who got lost in the Kalpowar Range.
"We (Ms Relf and I) looked and looked and looked, but we never found him,” she said.
"I believe that someone had picked him up on the road.
"So, I never had closure. I think he was taken, but not knowing is the most horrible thing.
"And this poor lad, the family have lost a man and his mate (Merlin) is missing.”
Mr McDougall is thankful for the way the North Burnett community has banded together to try and help, but said the best thing to do now is try and steer clear of the Wuruma Dam Rd area if possible so the family can continue building the scent trail.
Mrs Hannan agreed.
"The main thing we'd like to get out is to thank the local community for its support,” she said.
"Right from first responders to emergency services and the farming community, absolutely everybody.
"We are so overwhelmed by the support.”