Sunday shift turns to electrocution tragedy
A QUIET sugarcane farming community is in mourning and prayer today after a workplace electrocution killed one local man and left another clinging to life by a thread.
The cane fields of Little Mulgrave, next to Goldsborough to the south of Cairns, are not accustomed to much activity except when the planters and harvesters crawl through on their seasonal rotation.
It was a very different scene today as Irvin Access Rd seethed with paramedics, police, firefighters and Mulgrave Mill workers trying to save who they could - and keep anybody else falling victim to the danger at hand.
Operations Inspector for the Far North policing region Peter Flori explained the sequence of events that led to the emergency call for help about 9am.
Paramedics take a burns patient in a critical condition to Cairns Hospital after a crane hit a powerline in Far North Queensland. Video by Anna Rogers/Cairns Post.— Chris Calcino (@chriscalcino) July 28, 2019
STORY HERE: https://t.co/5fWwRZza5Q pic.twitter.com/hljuKsVNJZ
"It's a very tragic circumstance," he said.
"They're out there on a Sunday working for a living and accidents like this happen."
Insp Flori said the two men were carrying out work on the cane train line for Mulgrave Mill, owned by MSF Sugar, when disaster struck.
"There was a male holding a length of track, steadying it as the crane manoeuvred it," he said.
"Unfortunately the boom contacted the powerlines and that male was electrocuted."
His workmate raced to the man's immediate aid and was also struck by a powerful jolt.
Paramedics rushed to the scene and the first man was taken to Cairns Hospital in the Rescue 510 helicopter.
"Shortly after arriving there, he's passed away," Insp Flori said.
The second man was driven to the hospital in a critical condition by ambulance.
Insp Flori said the man who died was a 49-year-old Gordonvale local.
"We're not in a position to release his name until all of the relatives are advised," he said.
A hospital spokeswoman said another man, 54, had also been admitted in a stable condition, while the 63-year-old critically injured man may have to be flown to Brisbane tonight or tomorrow for further treatment.
The tragedy has rocked the tight-knit farming community, with Division 1 Cairns Regional Councillor Brett Moller sending his sympathies to everybody involved.
"It's devastating that local families have suffered this loss," he said.
"Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased at this time, and our prayers for those injured to come through safely.
"This will be devastating not just for the family, but I'm sure MSF as well.
"Now we just have to wait for the outcome of the investigation and let that process take its course."
Insp Flori said police would represent the coroner in the matter.
"We've arranged for Queensland Workplace Health and Safety to attend and commence their investigations," he said.
MSF Sugar, the Mulgrave Mill and Queensland Workplace Health and Safety have been asked for comment.