Aussie family's camping nightmare as 4WD motorist 'thought toddler was a speed bump'

Parker Galloway was riding his scooter with the other kids when he was knocked over, before disappearing under the wheels of the heavy vehicle.

A 4WD camping ground in Esperance WA pictured with cars.
A 4WD Landcruiser accidentally drove over the young boy at the 'packed' WA camping ground. Source: Supplied

An Aussie mum has detailed the horrifying moment her family's joyous holiday took a tragic turn when she found her toddler son lying lifeless on the road, moments after he was run over by a trailer-towing 4WD.

Perth couple Emma and Ryan Galloway were staying in a caravan park in Esperance, WA where they'd been "a couple of times before" with their sons Archie and Parker, now 7 and 4. It was a busy holiday season last year and the park was "very packed".

The "amazing beaches" are what made it an ideal location for their family who "love the outdoors". But five days into the trip, their idyllic family holiday took a tragic turn, and what followed was every parent's worst nightmare.

The couple had been talking to their new "van neighbours" while their sons, then 5 and 2, played nearby on their scooters with other kids. Suddenly, Parker took off around a small bend out of sight. Moments later there was "a lot of commotion," Emma recently recalled.

Toddler parker lying on stretcher inside Royal Flying Doctor Service plane.
Parker was flown from Esperance Regional Hospital to Perth Children's Hospital for Treatment. Source: The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia

She didn't know it at the time but Parker had been hit by a 4WD with his brother Archie breaking the news. They rushed over to find their youngest son wrapped in a blanket, still lying on the road between the tyres of a Landcruiser and the van it had been towing.

“The driver had knocked Parker over with his bullbar and then driven over him with his front wheel. Then drove over him again. He just thought he was a speed bump,” she recalled on The Flying Doctor Podcast this week.

"It was just really unfortunate timing. No one is to blame. But there were a number of witnesses who saw the whole thing. It was horrifying."

The boy was being treated by a paediatric doctor, as well as a midwife and nurse, who all happened to be staying at the park, while they waited for an ambulance to arrive.

"He was on his belly and he was conscious but he was whimpering. He was moving his head slightly but he couldn't speak. At that stage, we didn't know what had happened," Emma told podcast host Lana Micthell, recalling the first moment she saw him.

Left: Toddler Parker Galloway playing in water. Right: Parker Galloway lying in hospital bed with broken bones.
Parker Galloway, was hit by a 4WD while riding is scooter at a caravan park in Esperance. Source: The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia

Upon arriving at Esperance Hospital, doctors discovered the extent of Parker's injuries and he was flown to Perth Children's Hospital for treatment. A full body scan showed the toddler had broken his pelvis in three places, broken his arm, had internal bleeding and a laceration on his liver. Naturally, his parents feared the worst.

Parker remained in hospital for four long weeks, but because of his broken bone, "he just had to lay there" in bed, which was difficult, his mum said.

"There were times where he'd just be screaming all night. But he mostly just watched TV, that's all we could do. It was heartbreaking to watch," she added.

Emma and Ryan took it in turns to stay the night by his side, while the other caught up on sleep at home. Eventually, the young boy had healed enough be be discharged, however required a wheelchair until he was able to move easily again.

Police who later saw the CCTV of the accident told Parker's parents "it truly is a miracle he survived". Emma thinks the way the scooter fell in front of him on the road may have taken some of the vehicle's weight. "It was extremely, extremely lucky," she said.

Even now, Parker has some issues with walking and movement and requires checkups every six months. But he's back on a scooter and is "jumping around" like an ordinary four-year-old boy.

"He's just loving life now," Emma said.

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