UK PARENTS IN MERCY DASH TO SON’S BEDSIDE
STABLE AFTER HORROR CRASH
A PROMISING English cricketer who had been working in Echuca and playing for Kyabram is now in a stable condition after the ute he was driving on the first day of his new job collided head-on with a bus on Friday afternoon.
Billy Cookson, 23, originally from Chippenham, a town in Wiltshire, was playing for the Redbacks as opening batsman and wicketkeeper.
He had been given a job as a fulltime delivery driver by Kyabram Cricket Club president Tim Nelson, at Repco Echuca where he is store manager.
Billy was taking a toolbox to a Repco client in Cohuna when he crashed.
Mr Nelson said Billy’s parents arrived in Melbourne early yesterday morning and were picked up by Echuca Repco staff from the airport and driven straight to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where their son has been since being flown from the collision on Friday.
And while Billy had only played two games for Kyabram, Mr Nelson said he had already made a strong impression on the playing group and wider community.
“HE COULD talk to anybody and was just so positive all the time – so that’s one thing keeping our heads up high,” Mr Nelson said.
“The Fire Brigade Cricket Club also knew him quite well, so it’s definitely rocked everyone a fair bit. But it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or what you do, everyone is on the same page with this kind of thing. That’s just the country mentality.”
Billy was conscious when emergency services arrived at the crash scene but had extensive head, chest, arm and leg injuries and went into surgery soon after arriving in Melbourne. Mr Nelson said while he was still heavily sedated on painkillers, Billy is now “heading in the right direction”.
“He’s in a very stable condition and you could call him responsive,” Mr Nelson said. “When you walk in the room and say his name, he knows you’re there”.
“His right arm and right leg are still major concerns… but coming from an induced coma and life support only days ago, to where he is now, it’s been huge.”
Police said the V/Line bus (pictured), heading from Mildura to Albury, was 2km from Gunbower, on the Echuca side, when the collision occurred on the Murray Valley Hwy just after 3pm.
One of the first on scene was Echuca’s Adrian Vanzetta whose quick actions likely saved Billy’s life.
The part-owner of On Time Pest Control was on his way back to Echuca when he came across the horrific scene.
“The car was on fire under the bonnet and I just thought I’ve got to do something so I grabbed my pump from the truck and hooked it up with water and started pumping,” he said.
“The poor bloke was pretty out of it and his knees were hanging out of the car. He wasn’t in a good way.
“I just kept spraying. I didn’t even think. It was no big deal. I’m sure anyone else would have done the same thing.”
Adrian said it took about five minutes to extinguish the fire because it was so dry.
“If we hadn’t got the fire under control, it would have been a disaster. Because I think it took them about three-and-a-half hours to get him out of the car,” he said.
Police said it appeared the ute had crossed to the wrong side of the road for reasons unknown but the investigation into the cause of the accident was still being investigated.
Police said it was an appalling scene and they were amazed everyone on the bus escaped without injury.
Anyone who witnessed the crash or anyone who has information about the incident can phone Echuca police on 5483 1500 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.