Fraser Island tour company in hot water over injury claim
A WELL-KNOWN Fraser Island tour company has defended its reputation in the wake of allegations a Hervey Bay woman broke her back on one of its bus trips.
Robynn Godfrey, represented by Shine Lawyers, is seeking compensation for a fracture to her lumbar spine she claims was sustained on a Fraser Explorer Tours trip last year.
The Chronicle has viewed a police report about the alleged incident.
Ms Godfrey went on a day trip on October 13, a day before her 66th birthday, with her sister-in-law Denise.
In the police report, she said her tour bus was on the way to the Wangoolba Creek barge when the driver was notified it wanted to leave the island early. A Shine Lawyers spokesman said the bus received a flat tyre on the way and the driver told a passenger to use an emergency phone to contact the barge to let them know they were running late.
However the phone didn't work as it had allegedly been vandalised.
Once the tyre was changed, the driver allegedly sped to make the barge and hit two bumps in succession, forcing Ms Godfrey, who was wearing a seatbelt, out of her seat.
Ms Godfrey said she heard a crack and a crunch in her back, causing a fracture to her spine.
Ms Godfrey said she screamed out in pain but the bus did not stop.
Once on the barge, Ms Godfrey said the driver found her and admitted he heard her screams but was trying to make the barge on time.
Ms Godfrey said she did not want the incident to damage the island's tourism industry.
Instead, the Urraween resident wants to see better safety procedures implemented for tours. She said her "whole trip was ruined" by the incident.
In response to the allegations a Fraser Explorer Tours spokeswoman said the company was extremely popular with tourists around the world and had received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for seven years in a row.
The alleged incident came just two years after a 31-year-old German woman had to be airlifted after suffering two spinal fractures travelling on a Fraser Island bus tour.
The German couple, who had been on board a Fraser Island Adventure Tours bus, were also represented by Shine Lawyers and have recently settled their insurance case from the incident on October 4, 2016.
Hervey Bay Shine Lawyers solicitor Joel Blane said the man, who is now 33, suffered a disc protrusion in his back.
"They maintain they were definitely wearing seatbelts," he said.
"Tour companies have a duty of care to ensure the safety of their customers and that should see buses driven with care at all times."
The owner of Fraser Island Adventure Tours said accidents did happen and the company had done everything in its power to help the couple with the insurance claim.