Train accident prompts pair to give back

The West Australian
Stephen Keatley, who operates a wool shed with Westcoast Wool & Livestock at Brookton, with locals Alf and Beryl Copping and their son Thomas.
Camera IconStephen Keatley, who operates a wool shed with Westcoast Wool & Livestock at Brookton, with locals Alf and Beryl Copping and their son Thomas. Credit: no

Having been a St John Ambulance driver and witnessing them save the life of one of her sons in a horrific Brookton train accident in May, Beryl Copping and husband Alf did not hesitate to donate some of their wool proceeds to the community services last week.

Thomas Copping, 32, lost his left arm and foot under the train when it started to move as he and his brother, David, 34, crossed through it to get from one side of the township to the other.

With the train line dissecting the town, only two access roads at either end of the township and long train carriage lines sometimes parked up for hours, this is something locals have done for many years — and still do. Thomas was enjoying a Saturday night catch-up with his brother, who had only just arrived in town to visit the family, but he slipped as the train moved and was dragged underneath it until David managed to alert the driver.

Thomas was still under the train when Beryl arrived on the scene.

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“The services got there pretty quickly. It was traumatic for everyone involved, as well as the fire service and St John guys,” she said. “Three times we nearly lost him, with the blood loss — and he flat-lined in hospital (at Royal Perth). A lot of people were amazed that he survived.

“They (Fire and St John services) deserve everything they get. They are all volunteers and give up their time and do all the training.

“We would have lost Thomas if we didn’t have them there.

“So Alf said we have got some wool – let’s donate it.’’

Beryl travelled back and forth from Brookton to the Royal Perth Hospital ICU every day for 16 days to visit Thomas.

She said doctors had been amazed by his recovery and his positive outlook on the future.

“As a result of his attitude, he helped out with another person there who was doing it tough.’’

“He has only been home with us for the ‘rehab’ for five weeks. He is in a wheelchair and will get prosthetics after things toughen up. They give it (full recovery) two years, but as far as he is concerned he is going back to work and is very positive about getting on with what he has to do.

“He was doing farm work and has worked on the shire in the past.’’

Beryl and Alf are both “born and bred’’ in Brookton and have a small farm near the town. Thomas and David are the youngest of six children, including daughters Avril-Jo, Sandra, Tanya and Samantha, who live along the South West coast. They also have 10 grandchildren (five boys and five girls, including twins).

Beryl has worked as a special needs teacher at Brookton District High School for about 19 years and Alf has worked in the wool industry all his life, earlier with shearing teams and more recently with Westcoast Wool & Livestock representative Stephen Keatley, who is operating a wool shed in the town and services the wider area.

The donated wool from Alf and Beryl’s small farm featured in the Westcoast wool auction catalogue at the Fremantle selling centre last week. Westcoast also plans to add to the donation for the Brookton fire and St John services.

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