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Mary's miracle milestone

FAMILY SUPPORT: Clint Wilson with his mum Mary Wilson at the same stretch of the Cunningham Highway where Mary was involved in a traffic accident in 1987 which killed one woman and left Mary in hospital for three months. Clint witnessed the accident.
FAMILY SUPPORT: Clint Wilson with his mum Mary Wilson at the same stretch of the Cunningham Highway where Mary was involved in a traffic accident in 1987 which killed one woman and left Mary in hospital for three months. Clint witnessed the accident. Rob Williams

TWENTY-FIVE years ago she wasn't expected to live for another 48 hours so it's some kind of miracle Mary Wilson has made it to 60.

About 3.20pm on September 30, 1987, Mrs Wilson was on the footpath in front of her house on the Cunningham Hwy at Willowbank buying fruit from vendor Mavis Campbell as she regularly did.

As they stood near the fruit truck, a semi-trailer loaded with tonnes of tinned food ran off the road on the bend just before the house, flipped, ploughed into the truck and the trailer landed on the women.

Mary's husband Bernie, a trotting trainer and driver, recalled he was on his way home with a load of horses and found the highway was blocked.

"They wouldn't let me through and there were no mobile phones in those days so I didn't know what was going on," Mr Wilson said this week.

"When I finally got through, they said: 'You're the bloke we've been looking for' because I had a little girl with me, a mate of mine's daughter and they thought she was with Mary and she was under 38-tonne of tinned beetroot."

Mary and Bernie's son Clint was three, going on four when it happened and was playing in the front yard because Bernie didn't like Mary taking him on the footpath near the highway when the fruit truck was there.

Mr Wilson said he learned what happened that terrible day mainly from reports in The Queensland Times.

"Mrs Campbell was out the front in a little table-top truck and Mary was buying fruit off her," he said.

"Mrs Campbell was standing at the end of the truck and Mary was at the side. As the truck left the road, the prime mover separated from the trailer which flew through the air and hit Mrs Campbell and the truck."

Mrs Campbell sustained horrific injuries but lived long enough to be taken to Ipswich Hospital where she died.

"The force of the semi pushed the fruit truck about 50m along the footpath where it hit a tree, turned sideways, went through two fences and ended up in my hay shed," Mr Wilson said.

"The RAAF Base came up with a $100,000 crane and nobody knew how to work it; they were on the two-way back to the base working out which levers to pull.

"At any rate, they got Mary out, stabilised her, put her in an ambulance and took her to Ipswich Hospital. They said she didn't look too good so they had to rush her to Princess Alexandra.

"When she got there they said she only had 48 hours to live."

With a fractured skull the worst of her many injuries, she stayed in the hospital for three months including a lengthy stay in intensive care. Mary didn't know her name; she didn't even know her husband or her son.

"The matron said if I took the boy up there it might jog her memory," Mr Wilson said.

"I sat him up on the side of the bed and she said: 'You're lucky to have such a lovely son. I wish I had one'."

As soon as he could, Bernie brought Mary home and little by little she got better again.

"For someone who wasn't going to last 48 hours and that was 25 years ago she's done pretty well," he said proudly.

Mary had to learn to write again and credits doing puzzles and crosswords with retraining her mind and keeping it active.

She also learned how to drive again and used to keep the books at home and for Clint's hay and chaff business.

"If it wasn't for the specialists I went to over and over again I wouldn't be the person I am today," Mrs Wilson said.

Mary turned 60 on Saturday and she and Bernie and Clint went out to a restaurant in Brisbane last night to celebrate.

The venue was arranged secretly by Clint, only telling his parents to get dressed up really nicely.

Bernie reckons Mary and Clint spoil each other and after what they went through, it's no surprise.

"I remember after I came home from hospital it got to the stage where every time a semi drove past, he'd crawl under the bed because he was frightened. And when he was frightened, I got frightened," Mrs Wilson said.

"It took a long time for my nerves to go back to normal."

Bernie said he was lucky enough to sell a couple of horses for "real good money" so and he and Mary have been around the world twice and to nearly every country.

Mary collects fridge magnets from everywhere they visit and at last count has more than 1500.

Topics:  accident, cunningham hwy, mary wilson, willowbank


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