‘She just accelerated at the rate of knots.’


Christian Hernandez in early 2018, discussing the codeine upschedule. Image: Amcal+ Salamander Bay via Facebook.
Christian Hernandez in early 2018, discussing the codeine upschedule. Image: Amcal+ Salamander Bay via Facebook.

A pharmacist was lucky to escape with minor injuries after a car ploughed into a Port Stephens pharmacy

On Wednesday morning, managing pharmacist/owner Christian Hernandez was sitting at the consultation desk at the Amcal+ Salamander Bay, in northern NSW, preparing for a seminar he planned to attend in Sydney on Friday.

What happened next would have been a disaster if it had taken place only half an hour later, pharmacist and partner Ralph Kaiko told the AJP.

“A lady went to park – she was going very slowly, and I assume that she thought the gutter was 12 to 18 inches further away than it was,” Mr Kaiko said.

“She would’ve had her foot on the accelerator when she hit the gutter, and that would’ve jolted her foot, which went down on the accelerator and she mounted the gutter.”

The elderly driver took out a seniors’ parking signpost, which lifted the front of the car; when the sign snapped, the wheels were spinning, Mr Kaiko said.

“There were rubber marks on the pavers. The car took off and hit the glass window; the tyres hit the frame, which made it jump up in the air again and this time when the tyres hit my vinyl floor tiles, it was like a dragster taking off. She just accelerated at the rate of knots, in shock.

“She drove through a big display of giftware and stuff.

“I think the sound of her hitting the signpost outside alerted Christian, and that made him stand up – and as she came through the glass he turned around, and saw the car collect six hat racks.

“When she was about three feet away he realised it was coming towards him, and so he put his hand on the bonnet and went to jump out of the way.

“He hit the wall and she sort of belted his leg into the wall, but luckily he wasn’t pinned, just pushed in front of the car with all the debris from the desk.”

Paramedics attended the pharmacy and took Mr Hernandez to the John Hunter Hospital, but he is now home and suffered no broken bones, only a soft tissue injury.

Pharmacy staff helped the driver, who was uninjured and recorded a negative breath test for alcohol.

Mr Kaiko and the staff now face a significant cleanup process.

“She hit the consultation desk and the corner of the counter; that’s four metres long and she moved that a metre; the Scripts In counter moved an inch or so. Those counters were only done in June last year,” he said.

“I’ve got to get the floors redone; they can’t get the rubber out of them. And there were glass shards everywhere.

“All the stock involved, we’ve just dumped – we can’t take the chance with the glass shards. I’m dealing with Guild Insurance, who have been fantastic.”

But despite the challenge ahead, Mr Kaiko said he was glad that the accident wasn’t much worse.

“Luckily we weren’t open,” Mr Kaiko said. “Half an hour later, there would have been three people sitting in the chairs where people wait for prescriptions, and they would’ve been collected. There would’ve been multiple fatalities.

“If Christian hadn’t stood up, he wouldn’t have been talking to me this morning.”

Mr Hernandez still plans to attend the Friday seminar with him, Mr Kaiko said.

“He’s just very, very sore,” he said. “But he thinks he’s still going to make it down there. Though I’m going to be driving, not him.”

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