Real Life

Real Life: I survived the Flinders Street attack which almost killed over 18 people

One second I was hurrying down Flinders Street, the next my world changed.

By Lauren Irvine

Bec, 35, from Melbourne, VIC, shares her true life story.

After saying goodbye to my colleagues I left the office and headed for Flinders Street Station.
I'd walked the busy route in the heart of Melbourne every day for years but this would be the last time for a while. My family and I were moving to Brisbane the next morning.
I couldn't wait for the warmth of sunny Queensland, but there was something else I was looking forward to – finally marrying my fiancée, Amy.
We'd been engaged for three years, but the wedding was on hold until same sex marriage was legalised.
Two weeks earlier, it had finally happened! We'd arranged to tie the knot once we'd moved to Brisbane in a beautiful beach ceremony, in front of my kids, Hayden, 17, Hayley, 14, Talia, 10, and Alex, seven.
They were all waiting with Amy to pick me up at a train station a few stops away, so I rushed down Flinders Street.
We'd planned to do some late-night shopping before our big trip.
As it was a few days before Christmas, the footpath was crowded with last-minute shoppers. I joined the masses crossing the road at the lights, when suddenly I heard shrieking and loud banging to my left.
The crash site.Photo by Joe Armao.
People started running frantically in every direction.
What's going on?
Glancing sideways, I saw a white car hurtling towards me, throwing pedestrians out of its path.
There was no time to move before... smash!
When I blinked my eyes open, I was sprawled on the concrete.
I'd been hit so hard I hadn't felt the impact but now my whole body was in agony.
People were rushing all around me. I could hear blood-curdling screams and realised a load of others had been hit.
"Help me!" I shrieked, "I need to call Amy!"
"Stay calm," a man ordered.
But I was frantic.
I tried to sit up and find my phone but felt a bolt of pain and screamed out as I collapsed back down, banging my head.
Sirens got louder, people were shouting and sobbing. Some were covered in blood.
I began to panic, when I realised a paramedic was kneeling beside me.
"It's okay, sweetie," she said, injecting something into my arm. Then everything went black.
Me in hospital, on the night of the attack.
When I finally came to in the emergency ward, a police officer was there.
"Don't worry, I won't leave your side," she promised.
Was I still in danger?
Minutes passed in a blur as I tried to make sense of what had happened.
Suddenly a nurse handed me the phone.
I heard Amy's voice.
"Thank God you're alive," she wept – she'd called every hospital in the area until she'd found me.
"I don't know what happened," I told her. "There was a car, and..."
I'd been given so much pain relief that I was completely out of it.
Amy arrived a few minutes later with Hayden and my brother. As soon as I saw them I burst into tears.
When I caught sight of my left leg, I gasped.
It was elevated and had two giant metal rods sticking out of it.
Finally, a doctor came in.
"You've been in a bad way," he said, explaining I had a bleed on my brain, shattered bones in my left leg, a broken nose, fractured elbow and lots of bruising.
"It'll be a long road to recovery – you'll need to learn to walk again."
I could barely process it. How had this happened?
"It was horrible," Amy said, explaining a car had ploughed into pedestrians outside Flinders Street Station. Eighteen people had been run over, including me.
My kids have been a great support.
Suddenly, the bloody screams flooded back to me.
"Just focus on getting better," Amy said, clutching my hand.
Doctors said I could be in hospital for months. Days later, I learnt that an 83-year-old man had died from his injuries in the attack. My heart broke.
Because my knee had been so badly shattered, I needed major surgery to insert metal plates and screws to put the bones back together.
The trauma had also caused me to stutter so I'd need speech therapy. I had 11 hours of physiotherapy each week and rehab to start rebuilding the strength in my leg.
As I slowly learnt to wiggle my toes, then move my ankle, walking seemed like an impossible goal.
"You'll get there, sweetie," Amy encouraged.
I thought about how close we'd been to making the big move up north and planning the wedding of our dreams. The split second it took to step onto the road outside Flinders Street Station, in the path
of that maniac, had brought our lives to a screeching halt.
When the kids came to visit me, I was an emotional wreck.
We'd told Talia and Alex that I'd just been hit by a car but Hayden was old enough to understand the horrible truth – that it wasn't an accident.
Talia has a disability which means she doesn't understand what's happened.
L-R: Amy, Talia, me, Alex and Hayden.
Now, I'm still in hospital and have no idea when I'll be able to go home.
My stuttering has improved slightly but my speech isn't fully back to normal.
I'm only now able to put a bit of weight on my leg, so walking is still way off.
Despite the trauma of what I've been through, I couldn't be more grateful to the doctors and hospital staff, as well as the brave bystanders who ran to help me.
I still can't turn on the news in case I see footage from that day.
The man behind the wheel has been charged with one count of murder, 17 counts of attempted murder and one of conduct endangering life.
Some days it's hard but I'm determined to walk again so Amy and I can make it down the aisle and finally get married.
We haven't come this far to give up now.
We deserve our happy ending too.

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