Coward punch ruins man's life: 'I still hear the thump'
IT WAS a day meant to remember fallen truckies, but David Barwick remembers it as the day he almost died.
Mr Barwick, a second generation truck driver, is now coming to terms with the consequences of a coward punch that almost took his life at the Lights On The Hill memorial in Gatton last month.
After falling to the ground, paramedics worked tirelessly in the ambulance to keep Mr Barwick alive on the journey to the Toowoomba Hospital.
"I thought they killed him, I thought he was dead because he was unconscious for 15 minutes," his partner Jodie Rose said.
"I've never been so terrified."
The incident has left Mr Barwick with two breaks in his jaw, wiring in his teeth, a fractured cheekbone, 12 screws, a steel rod and two metal plates surgically inserted on top of permanent vision loss in his left eye.
The attack, he said, has changed his life forever.
It started off like any other day, Mr Barwick and his family arrived at the Gatton Showgrounds with flowers to honour his father who died in 2015, flowers they never got the chance to lay thanks to the callous attack.
As a result, Mr Barwick is facing the prospect of losing his sight forever, but even more significantly to him; a livelihood he has dedicated over 20 years of his life to.
"I got a call from my boss to start my new job (driving) to Mt Isa or Darwin and I've had to give that up so I'm pretty buggered now," he said.
"I love it, it's in my blood. One of my other brothers is a truckie too and we all love it."
Jodie Rose recalled the frantic scenes as emergency services attempted to save her partner as one of the worst days of her life, even shouting "don't you know the damage one punch can do" as the melee to quell the attacker raged on in front of her.
With the majority of Mr Barwick's medical procedures now over, the family is looking to rebuild for the future and plan for the long road ahead of them.
A road that will likely not include David Barwick continuing his father's legacy behind the wheel of a truck.
In the wake of what has been a traumatic few weeks for the Toowoomba family, both Ms Rose and Mr Barwick are hoping to spread awareness about the damage one punch can do.
Damage, they said, that has changed them forever.
"Just keep your hands down and to yourself" is Mr Barwick's message.
"It's not just the impact on the person but what happens to the lives around them and the ripple effect because I am now his left eye," Ms Rose said.
"It has frightened me and it still does. I go out to shopping centres and if I see someone similar to the person I freeze.
"I go to bed at night and I hear the crack and the thump again. It has changed me."
One of the most frightening aspects to the attack is that it happened in a venue where kids were present.
The couple's two young children watched on in horror, anticipating a day of remembrance that would eventually turn tragic.
"You expect this sort of thing to happen outside of pubs and nightclubs, not somewhere family-oriented where all the truckies come together to share a yarn, a laugh, and to remember who we've lost," Ms Rose said.
"There's no way to justify it."
The incident is alleged to have taken place at 8.40pm on September 30 within the arena area.
A 36-year-old man has been charged with Grievous Bodily Harm and is currently before the court.