DISASTER: The wreck of the light plane that crashed on Middle Island.
DISASTER: The wreck of the light plane that crashed on Middle Island.

Tourist sues for $4.5m after Agnes Water plane crash

WHAT was meant to be a fun scenic flight at Agnes Water has cost a 24-year-old English tourist, and her parents more than $4.5 million, the family claims.

Hannah O'Dowd and her parents are suing Civil Aviation Safety Authority for a light plane crash at Middle Island in 2017.

They claim Hannah was in a coma for nine days after the accident and underwent serious surgery and rehabilitation, spending six months in a Brisbane hospital with more surgeries later on.

Hannah - who now lives in Kent in the United Kingdom - is suing for $3,246,541.49 for personal injuries, loss and damages as a result of negligence and/or breach of duty.

Her parents, Conor, 57, and Tania, 52, O'Dowd are also suing for $750,000 each for damages for nervous shock suffered as a result of their daughter's injuries.

WRECKAGE: One person died and three hospitalised after a light plane crashed at Bustard Head, north of Middle Island. Photo Courtesy RACQ LifeFlight RescuePhoto Contributed
WRECKAGE: One person died and three hospitalised after a light plane crashed at Bustard Head, north of Middle Island. Photo Courtesy RACQ LifeFlight RescuePhoto Contributed

Hannah was in Australia for a one-year Monash University study abroad program in Melbourne.

On January 10, 2017, Hannah, 21 at the time, was one of three passengers of a Cessna 172 on a flight from Agnes Water to Middle Island.

About 10.38am, the aircraft crashed into dunes at Middle Island.

A 29-year-old UK female backpacker died at the scene, after paramedics worked on her for an hour.

She reportedly sustained head and lower leg injuries.

A 13-year-old-boy suffered a fractured vertebrae in the neck, a significant internal head injury, fractured pelvis and fractured left ankle and was taken to Rockhampton Hospital.

The 64-year-old pilot had head, chest and spinal injuries and was transferred to a Brisbane hospital.

RACQ LifeFlight Rescue on scene at the crash.
RACQ LifeFlight Rescue on scene at the crash.

Emergency responders at the time said it was amazing anyone walked away from the crash as the cabin was completely destroyed as it slammed into the beach.

A report by Australian Transport Safety Bureau was handed down in October 2019 and following a "complex investigation", it could not be determined what caused the aircraft's power loss and engine failure.

In the report, it was recommended that upper torso restraints (shoulder belts or harnesses) be worn by all passengers in small aeroplanes and for tourism operators to brief passengers about how and when to adopt a brace position.

Fatal plane crash on Middle Island.
Fatal plane crash on Middle Island.

The O'Dowd's lawsuit claims the accident occurred as a result of the unconventional and unsafe manner the aircraft was operated.

From the crash scene, Hannah was taken to Rockhampton Hospital before being transferred to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.

Her parents were notified of the accident by police officers who came to their home in the United Kingdom and they travelled to Australia soon after.

The 1770 LARC taking crash investigators to Middle Island.
The 1770 LARC taking crash investigators to Middle Island.

The accident caused Hannah to allegedly suffer a traumatic brain injury with a haematoma and haemorrhage.

Hannah allegedly had a drain in her brain and was in an induced coma for two days and took a further seven days to be brought out of it.

Her alleged injuries included C1 and C2 fractures, neck dissection and tear, pelvis fracture, compound ankle fracture, broken foot bones and a minor stroke, along with skin condition, bruising and surgical scarring.

While in a coma she was allegedly in a Halo brace, underwent ankle and pelvis ORIF surgery (using screws, plates, sutures or rods).

She allegedly was in a post-traumatic amnesia state for 26 days after she came out of the coma.

She allegedly also had further surgery including skin grafting as a result of infection.

She was reportedly discharged as an inpatient on July 16, 2017, after spending 187 consecutive days in hospital.

The 1770 LARC with the engine from the plane that crashed at a beach at Middle Island.
The 1770 LARC with the engine from the plane that crashed at a beach at Middle Island.

Hannah claims the extent of her injuries has left her with ankle pain, a limp and altered gait which means she has issues walking and standing.

She has an alleged restriction of movement in her neck and suffers many cognitive difficulties including mildly reduced high processing speed, mild high level language impairment, difficulty managing tasks, fatigue and memory deficits.

She also allegedly has high level anxiety, panic attacks, takes antidepressants and withdraws from social interaction.

Prior to her accident, the court claim details claim Hannah was involved in dancing, cheer, acting, running, skiing and tag rugby.

EXPLOSIVE: Preliminary report shows course of doomed plane.
EXPLOSIVE: Preliminary report shows course of doomed plane.

The parents claim, as a result of their daughter's injuries, they have sustained nervous shock, emotional turmoil and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hannah's completion of her university degree was allegedly delayed by a year following her accident.

She was also unable to work again reportedly from September 2019 as she underwent surgery for post-traumatic osteoarthritis in her ankle.

She will continue rehabilitation until May 2020.

A loss of income due to commencing work later has been claimed, along with various amounts for pension contribution funds (UK's superannuation).

The documents claim ­Hannah will only be able to earn 60 per cent of expected future income, due to her ongoing injuries.

The plane crash at Middle Island.
The plane crash at Middle Island.

Further hospital, pharmaceutical, travel and rehabilitation costs are also claimed.

The court documents state the parents suffered a loss of income, psychiatric suffering, permanent impairment of future earning capacity and special damages.

Various amounts are listed in English currency.

Together, the family is claiming $4,746,543.49.

The lawsuit was filed in Rockhampton Supreme Court on January 6 by Murphy Schmidt Solicitors of Brisbane.

A defence has not yet been filed.



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