A woman whose quadriplegic husband fell about one metre from a taxi’s wheelchair hoist, hitting his head and shoulder on the road, says she has been waiting more than a month for answers.
Kylie Vosa and her husband Maciu were attempting to leave Melbourne Airport when his wheelchair rolled backwards off the hoist; he had to spend the night in the emergency department.
“My husband and his carer waited on the ranks while I put some bags in the car,” Ms Vosa told ABC Radio Melbourne’s Jon Faine.
“He was wheeled onto the back of the hoist and from what I hear it wasn’t entirely flat on the ground, it was a bit inclined.
“As a result when the driver raised it up he rolled off the back and fell backwards off the hoist from about a metre high and landed on his shoulder and whacked his head on the road.
“It was horrifying for us. My husband thought he had broken his neck again.”
While Mr Vosa escaped the accident with no broken bones, it set his recovery back.
It had taken him three years to be able to use a manual chair but after the fall he can no longer do that and is back to using a powered chair.
His family is still waiting to see what the damage to the wheelchair is. It was only four weeks old and cost about $9,000.
Wait for answers continues
Ms Vosa reported the incident to the Taxi Services Commission, but more than one month has passed and the investigation has stalled.
She said she was told the driver had reported the incident to Silvertop Taxis two days after it happened.
But they failed to notify the Taxi Services Commission — the government regulator — which along with the police are the only ones who can request the CCTV footage.
As a result, the footage was never saved and has been taped over.
“We’ve had over a month of chasing this up and we’re pretty much just hitting dead ends,” Ms Vosa said.
Taxi Services Commission chief executive Aaron de Rozario said Melbourne Airport had failed to hand over its footage, that is, until the story was aired on ABC Radio.
“I’m pleased to say I think we’re going to get that footage today,” Mr de Rozario said on Tuesday.
“We generally don’t have problems getting CCTV footage from Melbourne Airport. I don’t know why it happened in this particular circumstance but I don’t think it will happen again.”
He said this kind of incident was “almost always preventable”.
“It’s never OK for anyone, ever, to be injured in a commercial passenger vehicle or a taxi,” he said.
“We’re currently investigating what happened and why, and if we find that there was negligence on the part of the driver or anybody else we will take action and that can include cancelling that driver’s accreditation.”
Mr de Rozario confirmed the commission had received seven complaints about similar incidents in the past two months.
“This is an extraordinary aberration and we’re looking into what has occurred here,” he said.
“Over the last couple of years, the number of complaints in this area has been going down, but there should be no incidents of this kind happening at all, so any complaint is a concern for us.”
‘It could have been a lot worse’
Ms Vosa agreed the figures were concerning.
“If they’re telling me that there’s five in the last month alone then definitely there’s an issue there that needs to be looked into,” she said.
“God knows what the accessible vehicle training entails but it’s definitely something that needs to be looked at.”
Ms Vosa said her husband was slowly on the improve.
“He’s getting there. It could have been a lot worse.”