Relationship breakdown and suing Cedar College (Blog 6 of 7)


the ironback trees lies on the ground at cedar college northgate
The BFT that fell on me (Big Falling Tree)

A tree fell on me at Cedar College Northgate on September 11, 2009.

Seven blogs contain details of the accident (this is the sixth blog)

  1. Cedar College Northgate – sports day and tree
  2. Spinal Cord Injury and no visits from the school
  3. They said what? and withdrawing help
  4. Safework SA and victim impact statements
  5. Cedar College pleads guilty
  6. Relationship breakdown and suing Cedar College
  7. Forgiving Cedar College and the future

Relationship Issues are the next problem.

This blog will not cover the details relating to the separation and divorce from my wife. In the 13 months between the accident and the onset of chronic pain, I attribute my survival and well-being to many factors. During this time I believe the love and care provided by my wife was one of the main factors. After our separation, I felt lost and depressed and didn’t see a point to living.

The timing of an unexpected visit to my house by my wife stopped me from swallowing pain relief capsules, and I was admitted to the mental ward of the hospital. After a night of sleep, I heard the words ‘you do not belong here’. I asked the psychiatrist to go home but didn’t mention I was hearing voices, as I thought it would keep me in longer. Within a few hours, I was discharged, and life turned around quickly, including a new partner, Madie, and better relationships with my children and friends. I got out of the home, did things and believe God spoke to me in the hospital, as well as sending the visitor to intervene.

In the following months, I received advice from many mental health specialists. They advised standing up for myself and one action I took was to commence my blog Wheelchair John.

Public Liability Lawsuit with Cedar College.

ABC news presented the news that I would sue Cedar College.Cedar College had adequate public liability insurance, and I expected the school to take full responsibility for the accident during the public liability lawsuit. I wasn’t expecting them to state ‘ It was our fault’, but I wanted to see better behaviours from the school, as they are a Christian school.

Instead, Cedar College filed a third party notice which named the two companies that supplied the arborist reports. The school listed around 15 reasons why the arborists were at fault! The school encourages students to take responsibility for their actions, rather than sharing the blame around. 

I felt bad for the two tree companies and was compelled to contact them and tell them I didn’t hold them responsible for the accident. My lawyers mentioned that it didn’t matter to us where the funds came from, as long as we achieved our goal, so I didn’t make contact. Unfortortunately, as of 2020, one of the companies was no longer operating.

The Public Liability Lawsuit was settled out of court with the two arborists helping to contribute to the settlement amount.

Between all of this and graduation.

just the cover of the cedar college graduation 2017
Cedar College Senior School Graduation 2017

While I was still in hospital the kids wanted to remain at the school and they both completed their year twelve SACE. Ben and the school gave permission for me to deliver a five-minute speech at Ben’s graduation, and I’ve shared a few lines.

On September 11, 2009, at Cedar College, an ironbark tree fell on me, narrowly missing Ben and my father, Alexander.  It changed our lives forever.

I asked God ‘where are you?’.  Preventing a tree from falling should be easy since you created the world in six days. While in rehab, I woke up in agony and unfortunately, the pain remains. In January 2011 I returned home after 16 months in the hospital. In 2012 my wife and I separated, and following this, I experienced mental health issues, including an attempt to hurt myself.  An unexpected visitor stopped this and I spent time in psychiatric health care and heard a voice say ‘You do not belong here’.

Life improved and I renewed my relationship with God at Rise Church. I worked on my physical and mental health.

I cannot blame God for what happened to me. God placed the right people in the right place many times, those at the accident, Wendy, the unexpected visitor, my parents, Madie, my children and friends. I think  swimming 40 laps, and surviving the accident, and living with my children is also a miracle.

Many people on stage have and will be congratulating the year 12 students.  I will too, and congratulations on your efforts, however, I want to thank the parents, the caregivers, and everyone else who played a role in supporting the students.  And students, please thank them, and reward them by keeping your bedroom tidy.

‘Bad things can happen in life.  You cannot personally control all events and people that may adversely affect you.  How you respond is the key’.

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