An Easter motorcycle ride has turned into tragedy for a North Queensland family, with a father killed and his daughter fighting for life.
- Initial investigations suggest the car did a U-turn in front of the bike, traveling south
- The stretch between Koumala and Carmila is a known high-risk crash zone
- It’s the third fatal crash in the area so far this year
Alan Atherton, 60, and his 19-year-old daughter Hannah were riding on the Bruce Highway near Koumala on Easter Monday when they were hit by a car doing a U-turn.
Police said it appeared the driver of the car had pulled out from the side of the road and did not see Mr Atherton, with the motorcycle hitting the driver’s door.
Members of the public and critical care paramedics performed CPR, but Mr Atherton could not be saved.
Hannah was flown to Townsville University Hospital with critical head injuries.
Five people were traveling in the car, including two children aged five and seven.
Despite the car being rolled onto its side by the force of the impact, all five people escaped serious injury.
Family friend Kirralea Smyth, on social media, said Mr Atherton was a passionate rider.
Meleah Bickley, whose daughter is friends with Hannah, also posted about the bond between father and daughter.
“Hannah is a beautiful person. She had come up to Mackay to spend it with her dad for his 60th birthday,” she said.
“Keep fighting Hannah. You’ve got this one.”
The stretch of the Bruce Highway between Koumala and Carmila has claimed three lives already this year.
Police said it was a known fatigue zone, with a number of fatalities in the area in recent years.
“Most of those crashes involve fatigue because it’s a 10-hour gap from Brisbane and people try and do it in one day and there’s not much in that area,” said Acting Inspector Anthony Cowan.
“People do not realize they’re tired until it’s too late.
“Unfortunately it happens more often than it should. Fatigue plays a big part in highway crashes.”
Acting Inspector Cowan urged people not to try and travel long distances over the coming two long weekends.
“We have the Mackay Traffic Branch that are sent to different areas and they’re certainly going to be sent south over the next two long weekends for that reason,” he said.
Investigations into the crash are continuing, with police asking anyone with dashcam footage to contact them.