A 63-year-old Western Australian man has burnt to death after his mobility scooter caught fire.
According to WA Today, two cyclists noticed smoke when they were riding in a park in Geraldton on Saturday and were confronted by an “extremely distressing” scene when they found the man. The two men tried to help the man and called 000, but he was unable to be saved.
Sergeant Jeremy Ashworth-Preece, of Geraldton Police, told the publication the exact cause of the fire is yet to be determined, although it is believed to have started underneath the scooter as the result of an electricity fault.
All that was left of the scooter was a blackened frame, while the pavement in the area was scorched.
“It appears that he was unable to leave the scooter when the fire started on it,” Ashworth-Preece said, according to WA Today.
The Department of Fire and emergency services were first on the scene but little could be done to save the man. Witnesses described seeing just a black and burnt metal frame left following the tragic accident.
The death is not being treated as suspicious and a report is being prepared for the Coroner. The tragic accident comes just a month after Monash University data published exclusively in the Herald Sun found as many as three senior Victorians are hospitalised each week due to either crashing or being hit by a mobility scooter.
More than 1,000 over-50s in the state have been rushed to the emergency department for their scooter-related injuries over the past 10 years. In more than 50 per cent of cases, the injuries sustained were so severe that patients required further hospital stays or additional treatment. Worryingly, there have been 129 mobility scooter deaths in Australia since the year 2000 and three deaths caused by pedestrians.
Sadly, older members of the community are more prone to accidents because of their dependence on scooters. “It’s older people who generally use mobility scooters and they’re using them because they need some help to be independently mobile,” researcher Dr Joan Ozanne-Smith told Starts at 60. “A lot of the older people, of course, are frail or have some sort of disability that’s why they require the scooter.”
There are around 350 hospital admissions around Australia for motorised scooter accidents, with Ozanne-Smith explaining that many on the market aren’t stable and come with design issues.