The wrecked 4WD in which Ray Harding died.
The wrecked 4WD in which Ray Harding died.

Community stunned

By SAMANTHA HEALY

AN asthma attack may have been the cause of an horrific crash on Tuesday night which killed Banora Point father Ray Harding and left his wife and two sons seriously injured.

The Harding family were driving north along a straight stretch of Minjungbal Drive at South Tweed Heads about 8.40pm when their white Mitsubishi Pajero 4WD suddenly ploughed into an electricity pole.

Mr Harding, 32, died, his wife Anna, 29, was seriously injured and their two young sons, Corey, who was in the front passenger seat and Jacob, who was in the back seat, were later airlifted to the Mater Childrens Hospital in Brisbane.

The collision left the large timber power pole shattered.

Family friends, Rachel Walker and Greg Cook, visited the scene of the horrific crash yesterday and placed flowers beside the pole.

"They are a great family, absolutely lovely people," Ms Walker said.

"It's hard to believe this has happened.

"Our boys were the same age and played to- gether."

Ms Walker's eldest son Brodie, 8, plays rugby league with Jacob Harding, 8, at South Tweed Junior Rugby League Club.

"My eldest (Brodie) was shocked when he heard," Ms Walker said.

"He kept saying Jakey (Jacob) won't have a dad anymore.

"He was really upset by the whole thing."

It is understood Mr Harding was driving at the time of the crash and may have suffered an asthma attack.

Ms Walker said he was known to suffer from asthma and had been in hospital about a week earlier for treatment.

A paramedic who responded to the crash described the accident scene as chaotic.

"It looked as though she (Mrs Harding) may have been in the back seat when she realised he (Mr Harding) was crook," the paramedic said.

"It appears that she undid her seatbelt, leant forward, maybe to grab the handbrake, and then they collided with the pole," the paramedic said.

"She was ejected from the vehicle through the windscreen."

A NSW Ambulance Service spokeswoman said when paramedics arrived Mr Harding was in car- diac arrest and taken to Tweed Hospital, but he could not be revived.

"The woman had a fractured leg, head and pos- sible spinal injuries.

"A six-year-old boy (Corey) suffered head injuries and his brother (Jacob) had suspected head and abdominal injuries.

The family was taken to The Tweed Hospital. Corey and Jacob were later airlifted to the Mater Children's Hospital in Brisbane for specialist paediatric care.

A witness at the accident scene said the crash site, in the northbound lanes of Minjungbal Drive, was completely closed to traffic which was diverted down William Street.

"It was chaotic. It was like a scene from a movie," she said. "Glass and debris littered the road and footpath for about 50 metres.

"The woman was being treated under lights and seemed very disorientated.

"The 4WD was all crumpled at the front and obviously bounced off the pole."

The crash site, outside the River Road Motel at South Tweed Heads, was barely noticeable yesterday.

Bright orange safety netting surrounded the splintered power pole, debris littered the grass and tyre skid marks were all that was left to speak of a tragedy that has torn a family apart.

Mater Children's Hospital yesterday refused to give a condition report on the two boys, but it is understood they are in a stable condition.

A neighbour, who had spoken with Mrs Harding's father, said she had a fractured vertebrae in her neck, three fractures in her upper leg and several cuts to her head.

A North Coast Area Health Service spokeswoman said Mrs Harding was in a stable condition late yesterday in the intensive care unit at The Tweed Hospital.



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