Couple demands safer car park

John Klose at one of the newly painted wheelstoppers in Coolum's Birtwill Street shopping centre car park. scw865/Mike Garry
John Klose at one of the newly painted wheelstoppers in Coolum's Birtwill Street shopping centre car park. scw865/Mike Garry

If it did not have such serious and painful consequences, the events of March 31 in the car park of the Birtwill Street shopping centre could have been a slapstick comedy scene from a Simpson’s episode.

But John and Jan Klose, on an extended visit to the Coast from their home in Crescent Head, New South Wales, were not laughing.

The cycling enthusiasts walked down the steps from the pedestrian walkway in front of the Amcal chemist to the car park when Jan tripped on the unpainted concrete wheel stop and fell heavily to the ground.

As she lay in agony, shoppers rushed to the nearby medical centre for help. A wheelchair was provided to transport her to the centre for treatment but on the way , the wheelchair encountered one of the car park’s notorious potholes, causing Jan excruciating pain.

She was given morphine, and an ambulance was called to take her to hospital.

But the car park had not yet finished with Jan.

John said that on the way out of the car park, the ambulance driver failed to see an unmarked speed bump – and Jan was in agony again.

“She went through the roof – even with the morphine,” John said.

But Jan’s trouble was just beginning. The ambulance took her to the Nambour General Hospital but there was no surgeon available for at last a day. Eventually, she was transferred to Selangor hospital

“She had to wait one and a half days on her back, immobile, morphine doped-up,” John said.

The ball joint in her hip had to be replaced. It could not be pinned because the damage to the blood vessels was too severe.

Jan spent eight days in hospital but was only home for three weeks when she developed a blood clot behind her knee.

She then spent another eight days in hospital at Selangor while she was treated with blood-thinning medications Clexane and Warfarin.

Now, 12 weeks after her fall, Jan is on the mend, riding her exercise bike and walking without a crutch.

John wants the Coles Group, which owns the ageing shopping centre, to make the centre safer.

So far, the retail giant has responded with what John calls “minimalist action” and has painted the wheel stops bright yellow though it has refused to take responsibility for Jan’s fall.

“We do not accept that in their unpainted state that they constituted a hazard to any person exercising reasonable care for his or her own safety,” the company wrote in a letter to John.

On May 6, the day before the wheel stops were painted, a 70-year-old Coolum man had a similar fall, suffering a corked thigh and damaging his glasses and mobile phone.

John has started a petition at Luke’s IGA, calling on Coles to narrow the steps and ramps so they align with the gaps between the wheel stops or to remove the wheel stops from in front of the steps and ramps.

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