Home' The Great Southern Star : March 8th 2016 Contents “THE STAR”, Tuesday, March 8, 2016 - PAGE 21
By Brad Lester
ON EASTER Monday, 2015,
Max Wood was looking for-
ward to a family outing at
Puffing Billy, the historic
tourist railway in the pictur-
esque Dandenong Ranges.
The Leongatha man never made it
The events of that day changed his
life forever and he would not return
home for three months.
He and his wife Rosemary were in-
volved in a head-on crash on the South
Gippsland Highway at Nyora.
Rosemary, a cherished grandmoth-
er, was killed almost instantly and Max
was airlifted to Melbourne’s Alfred
Hospital with life threatening injuries:
fractured vertebrae and ribs, a broken
hip and sternum, and his lungs punc-
tured in two places.
The couple’s daughter Jodie Duck-
worth was following behind but did not
recognise her parents’ car at first, given
the extent of the damage.
Max endured a hip replacement
in October last year as a result of his
injuries. The father of five daughters
and grandfather to 13 can still barely
see out of his left eye and is expect-
ing more surgery to try to improve his
“Before the accident I was as fit as
a bloody trout for my age,” Max said.
“The difference now is unbeliev-
able. I played golf every week, I also
walked, I was active in the garden and
now they won’t even let me get up a
A life member of Woorayl Golf
Club, he loved the game and the friends
he made there. He has not played since
the crash but still plans to pick up the
clubs again and has been practising his
“I was off 20 before the accident,”
he said of his golf handicap.
Max remains president of the Le-
ongatha Men’s Shed but chaired few
meetings last year as he recovered.
Now he is content to bang in a few nails
and “direct traffic”, but will not touch
machinery until his eye recovers.
He is glad to have no recollection
of the accident itself, but still recalls a
conversation he was having with Rose-
mary just minutes before impact. They
chatted about the working horse and
tractor rally held just weeks before at a
property by the highway. Max then did
not wake up until he was being placed
in the ambulance helicopter.
“I was on the brink for a while,” he
Max remained in intensive care at
The Alfred for over a week as his body
worked with doctors to battle compli-
“I was seven weeks without be-
ing able to put my right foot on the
ground,” he said.
After extensive rehabilitation at
South Eastern Hospital at Noble Park,
Max returned home three months after
The house was empty without his
beloved wife of 53 years but living in
Leongatha, Max said he feels far from
“The support of the local people,
from the golf club, from the horticul-
tural society and the men’s shed has
just been unbelievable,” he said.
“I get tears in my eyes when I
just think about it. They all came and
helped and were supportive.”
Despite having every reason to feel
glum, Max finds every reason to smile.
To him, his sense of humour is his
medicine and has enabled him to travel
past the scene where his life was up-
ended. The South Gippsland Highway
is the most direct route to the many
medical appointments he still has in
“I’ve just had to step up for the
grandkids because they have not got
their Gran,” Max said.
“I never did any cooking and now
I have to do all my own cooking and
Jodie can’t believe what I’m cooking. I
won’t have Meals on Wheels until I’m
The accident has taught him just
how quickly life can change when
travelling at speed.
“To get to where you are going one
minute early is not worth any risk,” he
The crash is still to be heard by the
Future gazing: Max Wood of Leongatha credits his sense of humour with helping
him recover from a traffic accident that claimed the life of his wife Rosemary.
Crash changed Max’s life in a blink
MOTORCYCLISTS without boots
stand almost double the chance of re-
ceiving lower-leg open wounds in a
crash, new Transport Accident Com-
mission research has found.
The TAC released the findings of its study as
motorcyclists enjoyed the 2016 Superbike World
Championship at Phillip Island recently.
The study revealed 47 per cent of riders wear-
ing inappropriate footwear when they crashed
such as shoes, runners, sandals or thongs – re-
ceived open-wound injuries. By contrast, 25 per
cent of motorcyclists wearing boots received
Open-wound injuries include flesh wounds,
traumatic amputations, burns, blood vessel dam-
age and superficial injuries. The latest findings
underpin a new Boots campaign by the TAC
aimed at reducing lower leg trauma among mo-
TAC senior road safety manager Samantha
Cockfield said the research highlighted the im-
portance of wearing motorcycle-specific footwear
“Riders don’t have anywhere near the level
of protection as drivers in a crash, so wearing the
best protective gear that is available makes a lot
of sense,” she said.
“Everyday footwear provides almost no
protection in a crash. In many cases, it will be
dragged off as the rider tumbles along the road.
“Motorcycle boots are specifically designed
to stay on during a crash and provide protection
from impacts and abrasion.”
Other ankle covering boots, such as work
boots, are better than everyday shoes but not as
good as protective boots.
The TAC findings were drawn from a survey
of 763 Victorian motorcyclists who were injured
in on-road crashes between 2010 and 2014.
Of those who were wearing riding boots in an
accident, 47 per cent received a lower limb in-
jury – compared to 55 per cent of riders wear-
ing other boots and 63 per cent for those wearing
Riders represent less than four per cent of
vehicles on Victoria’s roads but their vulner-
ability has meant they have accounted for 16
percent of all road deaths and 17 percent of se-
Last year, 30 motorcyclists died in Victoria,
while 1093 were hospitalised with injuries in the
2014-15 financial year.
Those wanting to find out more about staying
safe and wearing the right gear can visit the mo-
torcycle website www.spokes.com.au
Don’t take chances: motorcyclists should wear
the best protective gear available, according to the
Transport Accident Commission.
Motorcyclists, don’t shun boots
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