VISION IMPAIRED: Rockhampton teen Fletcher Holliday, 13, was attacked by a magpie and left with a severely damaged eye.
VISION IMPAIRED: Rockhampton teen Fletcher Holliday, 13, was attacked by a magpie and left with a severely damaged eye. Allan Reinikka

Swooped, attacked, blinded: Rocky boy maimed by magpie

FLETCHER Holliday was on his usual afternoon bike ride through a Rockhampton park when a magpie swooped, attacked his eye and changed his life.

The 13-year-old immediately underwent surgery at the Rockhampton Hospital to stitch up the 2.5mm cut to his cornea, and replace his cataracted lens.

His vision is now severely impaired and in Fletcher's words "always blurry".

Fletcher's mother, Robyn, said the experience has been traumatic for the family and Fletcher, who is now unable to play sport and two months on still has four stitches in his eye.

She hoped his story would serve as a warning to others.

"I was riding my bike in the park and a magpie came from the left behind me and hit my eye," Fletcher recalled of the September afternoon.

"Not a lot went through my mind at that time, it was after the incident that... it sunk in a bit more.

"It's just I can't really believe it happened to me."

Fletcher said he is taking his recovery "every day by day", remaining hopeful a potential lens transplant in about four months will recover his vision.

 

Magpie breeding season is here, so look out for swooping magpies over the next couple of months.
Magpie breeding season is here, so look out for swooping magpies over the next couple of months.

While Fletcher's advice to others was to keep well clear of magpies, his mother said had he only been wearing sunglasses on the day, the bird would not have been able to attack his eye.

"In magpie season kids should be encouraged to wear glasses and if the council know of problem magpies maybe they can remove them, because kids' eyes are more important than protecting one bird, if it is a problem bird," she said.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) state magpies are native Australian birds and protected under the State Wildlife Legislation (Nature Conservation Act 1992).

If a magpie is potentially dangerous it can be assessed by a bird relocater, operating under a permit from the EHP, to determine whether it should be removed.

In some cases, local councils may have a policy to cover the costs of magpie removal and landowners have a duty of care to ensure the safety of anyone on land they manage.

But for Fletcher, the damage is already done.

Robyn said at this early stage, glare from the sun is Fletcher's main issue, but she hoped if the lens transplant was possible, he will only require glasses for reading in future.

"It's changed a lot of things for him, he is not able to play sport, it was very traumatic at first but we have got through and he is still on drops, taking drops in his eyes through the day," Robyn said.

"I am amazed at how well he has got through it but at first it was very traumatic, we didn't realise how serious it was but the surgeons at the hospital have just been absolutely amazing and we had a lot of people praying for him and the fact that the back of his eye is good and he will get sight again is wonderful.

"And I just feel for the little girl who lost the sight in her eye, she is only seven, and I am very grateful that Fletcher has a chance to get his sight back."


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