It was Wednesday 26 September 1990 and the headline in the Gold Coast Bulletin read ‘Horror On The Mountain’.
In the story following, the reporter noticed a young policeman at the scene. He wrote, ‘A young policeman sweating profusely and visibly upset, paused to regain his composure before tying an identification tag to the foot of one of the bodies prized from the wreckage of the KJN Tours and travel death bus’. My uncle, Tony Brown was the first police officer to arrive that day. He was only 21 years old.
Tony Brown graduated from Oxley Police Academy in 1988 when he was 19. He dreamed of becoming a police officer since he was 10, after his friend’s brother joined the police force. Tony wanted to make a difference and help people and do the right thing by society.
At the time of the bus crash Tony worked for the Southport Police Station as a young Constable. He had not seen many accidents, but on that day 11 tourists died and 42 others were injured. There were bodies everywhere. Tony assisted the ambulance to build a makeshift hospital and helped the injured.
Tony’s advice to anyone wanting to become a police officer is to get ‘life experience’ so that you can handle the bad things that can happen. ‘A police officer needs to be patient and able to communicate well with people from all walks of life. They need to adapt quickly to any situation they face, whether it be good or bad.’
Twenty-six years later, Tony is Acting Inspector at Wynnum Police Station and has had 28 years in the force. Every day he puts his own life at risk and is my inspiration.
I asked Tony if he worries about his safety and he said, ‘Yes, when I don’t know what to expect at a situation. Quite often I say a little prayer when I’m on my way. So far they’ve all been answered.’
YJA 2016 Junior Runner-Up: Tom Kitson, St Peter Chanel Catholic Primary School, The Gap, QLD