Toddler fighting for life after freak accident at dad's racing event


A two-year-old Queensland girl is fighting for life after a boom gate slammed into her and her family who gathered to watch her dad race at a Redcliffe Harness Racing event.

At 6.13pm on Sunday, the little girl’s father, Gary Whitaker, was on the track doing what he loved as his family cheered on. But less than an hour later, his “little princess” was being rushed to hospital.

Lara, two, is fighting for life after a boom gate slammed into her and her family at a Redcliffe Harness Racing event. Source: 7 News

The family of four was standing on a podium when Mr Whitaker, his wife Joedy, son Josh, and daughter Lara were struck by the arm of a pace car, called a mobile. The boom gates are supposed to close to allow the horses to pass.

“I don’t think anyone was sort of paying attention to the mobile as they were all looking at the horses,” a witness told 7 News.

“All you could hear was screaming and the dad of the child was carrying her. He carried her out to the track because there was an ambulance car out on track.”

Garry Whitaker, his wife Joedy, son Josh, and daughter Lara were standing on a podium when they were struck by the arm of a pace car, called a mobile. Source: 7 News

The scene was so distressing spectators have been offered counselling.

Lara remains in a critical condition in intensive care, fighting for her young life.

Her mother took to Facebook, writing: “Thank you for all your lovely messages. Gaz has been released with a large cut to his head. Josh and Lara are both spending the night in ICU.”

Redcliffe Harness Racing Club refused to comment, however Racing Queensland issued a statement saying: “Our utmost concern is for the impacted family.

“It is imperative that we provide our support, including counselling for staff and spectators.”

The boom gates of the mobile pace car are supposed to close to allow the horses to pass. Source: 7 News

The incident and the moments leading up to it were captured on camera, allowing workplace health and safety investigators to determine, frame by frame, what went wrong.

On Monday evening, Jodey wrote on Facebook that her daughter’s condition was critical but stable, and she faced a long road to recovery ahead.

Her son, however, has been moved from intensive care into the hospital’s general ward.

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