Firefighter Rob Hauxwell was one of the first on the scene at Thursday morning's rail crash in Cleveland, south-east of Brisbane, only to discover his 16-year-old son Brendan had narrowly escaped being hit by the train.
“He was just feet away from entering the men’s bathroom – the bathroom was the thing that stopped the train,” said Mr Hauxwell, who is acting station officer at Cleveland.
“Brendan just heard a loud bang and he got out of the station pretty quickly.”
Mr Hauxwell said he didn’t find out about his son’s lucky escape until he received a text message from his wife while he was searching through the wreckage of the men's toilet.
“My wife sent me a message and she’d spoken to him, so that made it a bit easier knowing he was safe,” he said.
“We were searching the men’s bathroom with a small camera at the time because we had heard someone may have been in there. I didn’t know it could have been my son.
“My son’s dealing with it okay. He’s actually at home getting stuck into his college homework.”
Queensland Rail says it is too early to speculate on what caused the passenger train to overrun the platform and crash into Cleveland station.
Queensland Rail acting chief executive Jim Benstead said an inquiry, expected to take three months, was under way and he hoped train services would resume at Cleveland station early next week.
He said he did not know why the train was running 10 minutes late before crashing and said it had been inspected about three weeks ago.
Russell Island resident Mikayla Gedye, 17, said she and her friend Emily Benson, 17, of Victoria Point were waiting outside the station dealing with a flat car battery when she heard “a massive bang”.
“I just ran across the road into the station and called the ambulance while I was running over. My friend Courtney was already in the station,” Mikayla said.
“She’d seen it (the train) go past her (while waiting on the platform) and she said the train was going pretty fast.
“But the first thing she did was turn to me and say she had to get girls out of the bathroom.”
Mikayla said she helped Courtney wrench the door open after it had been bent to the shape of the train.
“The girl (in the bathroom) was pretty shaken, but she was all right. We just saw the train crash and raced over to help,” she said.
“It was going in pretty quick, I thought it was a power surge and I thought they couldn’t brake.”
In a delicate operation, the front carriage of the train that crashed into Cleveland Railway Station on Thursday morning was lifted out of the station building at 2.30am Friday
The two other carriages had been pulled away from the first carriage of the train around midnight.
A crowd of around 50 people watched the operation which started in the early afternoon.
Thornlands couple Dell and Rolf Bruce said they were also waiting outside the station, near Mikayla and Emily’s broken-down car, when the train crashed.
“We were just sitting in our car waiting for our daughter to arrive,” Dell said.
“We do it all the time, but just didn’t expect the train to come slamming through.
“They're lucky it wasn’t an old wooden station; the train might have ended up on the road instead of in the bathrooms.”
Dell said her 56-year-year daughter, Joanne Cottroll of Lota, was on the train in the second carriage.
“She’s very shaken up and has a sore knee. It was a huge shock for everyone. We’re just so glad no one died."
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