By Calvin Palmer
An Australian woman walking to work yesterday was killed in a freak accident when she was hit by a flying piece of a steel pipe thrown up by a mower.
Muraka Jenny Vearncombe, 42, a mother of three from Townsville, Queensland, was decapitated and died instantly.
Police said a tractor pulling a grass cutter ran over a steel pipe that had been lying in the long grass, which was then sent flying through the air at great speed.
“She was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Detective Sergeant Darren Randall. “She just happened to be in the exact trajectory of the pipe.”
“Initial investigations suggest it was an accident,” he added.
The pipe ricocheted off the grass cutter with such force it travelled a further 50 meters (165 feet) after inflicting the fatal injuries.
The male tractor driver, an unnamed 48 year-old private contractor, is in hospital suffering shock.
The incident occurred across the road from Townsville Central State School, a primary school, but no children witnessed the woman’s death. The school closed for the day.
Local business owner Geoff Eales said his staff had been traumatized by the accident.
“The policewoman said it was the worst thing she had seen in 15 years,” Eales said.
“At the end of the day there is no other explanation than that it was bad luck. It was a one-in-a-million situation. If she had been one second later, or one second earlier, it wouldn’t have happened.”
Vearncombe was born in Papua New Guinea but moved to Australia 14 years ago. She met her fiancé Peter Pyne four years ago while living in Rockhampton.
She had three children from a previous marriage, Wayne, 18, Kevin, 23, and Tara-Lee who lives in Nanango and celebrates her 21st birthday in two weeks.
Vearncombe had been on her way to work at the African Bazaar in Flinders Mall but only made it 100 meters (328 feet) down the street when the accident occurred.
African Bazaar owner Harry Martin said he was devastated to lose Jenny as an employee and a friend.
“It’s such a tragic bolt out of the blue,” he told the Townsville Bulletin. “She was a wonderfully cheerful person and she also proved herself to be very reliable.”