An elderly man stranded in northern NSW has died suddenly while waiting for the Queensland border to reopen.
The 78-year-old had been living in a caravan at Tenterfield for more than three months with his wife and daughter, according to The Courier-Mail.
He was “stressed” as he and his family desperately tried to relocate to Stanthorpe, in Queensland's Southern Downs region, to live with their son, the publication reported.
But after months of hardship and heartache caused by Queensland's harsh Covid border closure, the man suffered a medical emergency and died, just 50 kilometres from his intended new home.
Police investigating man's death
In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, NSW Police confirmed emergency services were called to a caravan park in Tenterfield about 3pm (local time) on Monday after reports a man was found unresponsive.
“The 78-year-old man was treated at the scene however could not be revived,” the statement read.
“Officers from the New England Police District attended and commenced an investigation into the man’s death. A report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.”
Tragedy rocks caravan park community
Bundaberg resident Susan Hosking, who has also been stuck at the caravan park after travelling to Victoria to visit her partner’s dying mother, witnessed the tragedy unfold.
She told The Courier-Mail the caravan park was a “tight knit community”, which had been rocked by the ordeal.
“It’s a sad thing because it’s just somebody who needed to get across the border to be with his family,” she said.
“We’ve all been stressed out and are all waiting for that magic day (when the borders reopen) and to think somebody who was so close, will never get back there, and won’t be there for Christmas.”
She added the man had been feeling on edge and anxious about the border exemption process.
"I had been told he got very, very stressed out about the thought of having to pay for a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test," Ms Hosking said.
It was understood the man had applied for a border exemption in early November, but it was withdrawn a week later.
Queensland Opposition demands answers
The state’s opposition leader has demanded an explanation from the Queensland government over the “utterly tragic” situation.
"This is harrowing and hard to fathom,” Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said in a statement to Yahoo News Australia.
"It's difficult to comprehend what his family is going through right now or how this could happen.
"For a Queensland man to die waiting to come home while he was just trying to care for his family is utterly tragic.”
Mr Crisafulli slammed the harsh border closure, arguing the rules can be “safe and compassionate at the same time”.
"The Premier just does not seem to care about the impacts her decisions are having on real Queenslanders," he said.
"The State Government owes it to the family to explain why he wasn't allowed to come home safely."
The premier’s office and Queensland Health have been contacted for comment.
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