Old news from Armidale and New England

Local news from newspaper archives

Injured man 15 hours in car.

with one comment

Saturday 20 February 1954, The Sydney Morning Herald

Injured Man, 78, Sat 15 Hours In Car In River

KEMPSEY, Friday.-For more than 15 hours last night and early to-day a man, aged 78, sat in a wrecked car in the Macleay River with his neck broken and only his head above water.

His car had somersaulted at least four times down a-150ft precipice from the Kempsey Armidale road.

The man, Donald Alexander McDonald, Macleay Shire valuer, could not draw the attention of drivers of about 20 cars and trucks which passed between dawn and 9 a.m. to-day.

He was found at 9.30 a.m., but by the time he was admitted to hospital it was 3.30 p.m.-nearly 22 hours after the accident.

Macleay District Hospital authorities said to-night his condition was critical.

McDonald was driving his sedan car towards Armidale to visit his son at George’s Creek, about 6 o’clock last night, when the sun shone in his eyes at Flying Fox Cutting, 60 miles west of Kempsey.

The road follows the winding gorge of the Macleay River.


McDonald’s car swerved over the edge of the road and plunged down the precipice below into the river.

The car bounced off rocks and trees and was wrecked, but it landed on its wheels in the river.

The water level had fallen six feet since the recent rain but it was still flowing rapidly.

McDonald’s spine was fractured at the neck and he quickly became paralysed from the shoulders down.

He was able to sit upright, but only his head was above water.

The mountain water was icy, and he soon became blue with cold.

McDonald remained conscious all the time.

Passing drivers saw nothing amiss because lantana, other undergrowth and trees screened the car in the river.

Ted Conn, a local resident who was driving cattle, found McDonald at 9.30 a.m.


Conn heard McDonald’s faint coo-ees, which led him to the nearly submerged car.

He could not free McDonald, so he rode to farmhouses at Lower Creek, about two miles away, and called out all the men available.

They levered off a door of the car with crowbars before they could lift McDonald out and lay him on the river bank.

The nearest ambulance was at Kempsey.

The ambulance superintendent, Mr. W. Menger, and Dr. A. McNeil, loaded the ambulance with operating instruments, drugs, and hotwater bottles before setting out.

They raced along the narrow, winding mountain road, but it took them two hours to reach Flying Fox Cutting.

Dr. McNeil gave McDonald injections to case his pain.

Volunteers then carried the stretcher up a steep cattle track to the ambulance.

Trucks dragged McDonald’s car out of the river late this afternoon.

Written by macalba

October 4, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. In this newspaper account the victim’s surname is spelt incorrectly. It was McDonell, not McDonald. His son at Georges Creek was Alec McDonell, at that time manager and part owner of East Kunderang Station, now part of Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. Co-incidentally, I heard this story two weeks ago from Alec’s son Peter when we visited East Kunderang homestead.

    Bob Harden

    October 5, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: