Plaque to be unveiled to remember QAS aerial crash victims

QUEENSLAND Ambulance Service (QAS) Commissioner Russell Bowles will remember those who perished 55 years ago in an aerial ambulance crash in Central Queensland with their families.

Commemorating this sad event, Commissioner Bowles will unveil a plaque at Edungalba (near Duaringa) today, marking the site of the June 7, 1958 crash, which resulted in the deaths of four people.

"Bearer and pilot Edward McLeod, 29; bearer James Tranent, 45, who was on his first flight; patient Latus Josephine Shaw, 28; and patient Thomas Geoffrey Rolls, 31, lost their lives that day," Commissioner Bowles said.

Commissioner Bowles said the aerial ambulance had been travelling from Alpha to Rockhampton in challenging weather conditions to obtain urgent medical attention for the patients on board when the crash occurred.

"This was an event that touched the entire community. Mr McLeod, Mr Tranent, Mrs Shaw and Mr Rolls were well-respected and are remembered fondly by their friends and family," he said.

Commissioner Bowles said Mr McLeod was known as a competent airman and had led 11 flights transporting a total of 17 patients in the eight-month-old plane, travelling a combined distance of more than 4,300 kilometres.

"This event was a true loss to the community. The plane and aerial ambulance service was a community initiative funded by residents and the State and Federal governments," he said.

"It was devastating that this mercy dash ended in tragedy, but the aerial ambulance service also saved many lives.

"Following the crash another plane was registered and the service continued and expanded, with three aircrafts eventually operating in the region.

"It is estimated that they transferred approximately 750 patients per year, saving hundreds of lives."

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