Back from the brink: Hawkey’s harrowing six-month journey

Rowan Hawkey was a key member of the Narooma Lions’ 2017 grand-final side. Now the 32-year-old is lucky to be alive.

Hawkey, who now coaches the women’s team, returned to work as an auto-electrician recently after a horrific incident at the sawmill in December, 2017.

”I was working on a crane out at the sawmill,” Hawkey said. “It started when I didn’t expect it to, and I was standing beside it.

“I tried to stop the thing, but I got caught under the back wheel.”

Hawkey said said there was a short moment where he didn’t think he’d make it.

“Once I realised I was trapped under it, I thought that was probably just about it,” he said. “As it went over my midsection, I could hear and fell all the bones crushing, so that wasn’t a good feeling.

“As soon as I realised it had passed over and I was still conscious, I was a bit more confident of my chances.”

Hawkey sustained multiple fractures to his pelvis and hip, a dislocated hip, a crushed knee, internal bleeding, and three fractured vertebrae in the accident.

He spent time in the Intensive Care Unit of Canberra Hospital, part of a seven-week stint that included two surgeries, and a “heap of physiotherapy".

Hawkey said he wouldn’t have gotten through the last few months without the support of his wife, Ellie, and the rest of his family.

I still have to rebuild a lot of strength, and make sure all the muscles work properly.

Rowan Hawkey

“It’s been unreal, she’s been there from day dot,” he said. “She was willing to do everything I needed in hospital, and looked after me when I got home.

“My mum and dad and Ellie’s parents shared having the kids for quite a while.”

The only visible sign of Hawkey’s injuries now is a limp, but Rowan acknowledges he still has a lot of work ahead of him.

“It’s going to take a while,” he said. “I still have to rebuild a lot of strength, and make sure all the muscles work properly again.

“It’d be great to try and have another crack at footy as well, but it’s not going to phase me too much if I can’t.”

Hawkey confirmed the age-old cliche that a near-death experience changes your outlook on life.

“I reckon it does to a degree,’ he said. “You realise that you shouldn’t take anything for granted, that’s for sure.”