A Corkman who lost his leg after being struck by a train in regional New South Wales is in a stable condition in hospital.
Gavin Owens, 30, from Cobh, sustained severe injuries when he was struck by a freight train near his home in Scone on August 19.
He was struck at 1am as he was walking home from a night out, where he was celebrating the end of the rugby season with his club, the Scone Brumbies.
The train driver alerted authorities. Mr Owens was transferred to a local hospital and was later airlifted to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.
A hospital spokesperson said Mr Owens is in a stable condition in the intensive care unit.
His friend, Patrick Kelly, from Cobh, said Mr Owens has been drifting in and out of consciousness since the incident occurred.
“He was awake on Monday and Tuesday morning [last week], but he has been sedated since his first major surgery on Tuesday morning,” he told the Irish Echo.
“He’s after losing his leg – he got pretty badly infected in both legs. He’s got broken bones in his back, broken bones in his neck and he broke six ribs.”
Mr Kelly is in contact with Mr Owens’ mother and grandfather daily.
Mr Owens’ mother lives in Reading, England, with his brother and two sisters, while his grandfather, Leo Owens, lives in Cobh.
His mother is expected to travel to Australia.
Mr Owens was a supremely talented rugby player, said Mr Kelly.
He played rugby for his local team, Cobh Pirates RFC, and junior rugby for Munster.
In 2004, he went to New Zealand with Brent Pope, where he travelled with a rugby selection from Ireland.
He emigrated to Australia in April 2010, and has worked as a refrigeration mechanic for Primo abattoir in Scone.
The Belmore Hotel in Scone has started to raise funds for Mr Owens.
“He’s one of the funniest, nicest people you’ll ever meet,” publican Kal Brownlee told the Irish Echo.
Businesses have donated about $7,000 in products, for an upcoming fundraiser at the bar.
Mr Owens has lived in Scone for two years and is an extremely popular member of the community. Mr Kelly said he is overwhelmed by the support from the community.
“The people in Scone are just absolutely amazing. They’re doing so much for him at the moment – it’s unbelievable.”
He said that people from around Australia are already offering to help Mr Owens, and that there will be a number of fundraisers held in the future.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who can say a bad word about him,” said Mr Kelly.
“He’s always been happy-go-lucky. He’s got a famous motto, ‘just get on with it’ – hopefully, he’ll do that himself.”
An account for his medical costs has been opened with ANZ Bank. The BSB is 012-782 and the account number is 186-994-903.
With staff writer