Driver swats at fly; 4 die

The Courier-Mail

Thursday 3 October 2002
By Amanda Gearing and Amanda Watt

A BRISBANE university student - the sole survivor of a horrific road accident - last night spoke of her devastation at losing her four friends after she lost control of her 4WD when she swatted away a fly.

A heavily-sedated Alexis Pidcock told her parents of the tragedy which claimed the lives of her two childhood friends.

The 20-year-old, who was airlifted to Brisbane with spinal and internal injuries, was driving the group home from Condamine to Brisbane in her Toyota troop-carrier along the Condamine Highway, 200km west of Toowoomba.

The 4WD left the highway and rolled several times before coming to rest in a paddock more than a 100m away.

Ms Pidcock crawled from the wreckage to flag down a passing motorist.

A fourth passenger, a male exchange student from Belgium, was killed after being thrown 50m from the wreck. One of the three dead women was last night identified as Megan Stallman, 20, daughter of the National Party's Queensland Vice-President Pamela Stallman.

The other victims were Maxine Kidd, 20, and a woman from Byron Bay.

Ms Pidcock, Ms Kidd and Ms Stallman were past students of the St Hildas school on the Gold Coast and it is believed all five occupants were studying at the University of Queensland's St Lucia campus.

The group had spent Saturday night at the Goondiwindi Bachelor and Spinsters Ball before driving to the Stallman family's Condamine property.

They were travelling back to Brisbane when the accident occurred about 10.30am.

Their grieving families and friends were last night coming to grips with the news. Ms Pidcock's parents, Phil and Sally Pidcock, last night drove from their Gold Coast home to be at their daughter's hospital bedside.

They spoke to their heavily sedated daughter, a second year arts student, in a brief telephone conversation yesterday afternoon.

"She couldn't say much. I guess she was in shock. She just said she was sorry it had happened," Mr Pidcock said.

Mr Pidcock, a Gold Coast property developer, said Alexis, who turns 21 next month, was "amazingly lucky" to be alive. "It's a terrible tragedy," he said.

Ms Kidd's mother Nora said the family, who live in Charters Towers in north Queensland, were still in shock after hearing at about 7pm of the accident.

Condamine resident Col Wilkie, who was flagged down by Ms Pidcock, drove to a nearby property and telephoned 000.

He and the property owner Rod Davies returned to the crash scene where the driver told them she had lost control of the vehicle when she was trying to swat a fly.

The Condamine crash was one of three fatal accidents on Queensland roads in a 10-hour period yesterday which left a total of six people dead.