February 4, 2023

A wedding fashion designer who lost both her legs and an arm in a horrific farm mowing accident is in an induced coma following a grueling operation.

Claire McKenzie, 61, who managed to save her own life by dialing 000 after suffering catastrophic injuries under a tractor and slasher, was “calm” before surgery, a nurse told her family.

Ms. McKenzie bought the tractor and forage harvester to keep her 50 acre estate in Ballandean, 150 miles south-west of Brisbane, safe during bushfire season.

Around noon last Thursday – while working alone on her farm – Mrs. McKenzie was thrown off the tractor and run over by the slasher.

Three of her limbs were cut off in the accident.

Despite her serious injuries, Ms. McKenzie managed to call emergency services and was transported by helicopter to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.

Bridal designer Claire McKenzie (left) was mowing her 50-hectare estate in the wine-industry town of Ballandean, 150 miles southwest of Brisbane, when she was thrown from her tractor and the slasher severed three of her limbs

The 61-year-old was mowing for bushfire season three years after fires engulfed the small town forcing evacuation, but was catastrophically injured when her butcher fell onto both her legs and one arm

The 61-year-old was mowing for bushfire season three years after fires engulfed the small town forcing evacuation, but was catastrophically injured when her butcher fell onto both her legs and one arm

Stanthorpe mum Kylie Beckett, who met Ms McKenzie when the dressmaker made alterations to her daughter’s debutante ballgown two years ago, started a GoFundMe page over the weekend.

The fundraiser has raised $7,418 so far, with a local business, the Granite Belt Brewery, contributing $500.

“She is a lovely lady with a beautiful soul who lives alone,” Ms Beckett told Daily Mail Australia.

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‘How your life can change in the blink of an eye… My heart goes out to her.

‘Stanthorpe is a great community, it gathers around people. I hope anyone who wants to donate to this cause can help Claire.”

Kylie Beckett (above) met Claire McKenzie two years ago and said she wanted to help

Kylie Beckett (above) met Claire McKenzie two years ago and said she wanted to help “the beautiful soul” by raising money to fund her friend’s “very long recovery” from “life-changing” injuries sustained in the tractor accident

Ms McKenzie’s family has been rushed to hospital, where their mother was described as in critical but stable condition in intensive care.

Described by neighbors as a ‘quiet lady with a love of nature’, Ms McKenzie remarkably remained conscious during the ordeal and alerted the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) who dispatched the rescue helicopter to take her to Brisbane.

She was delivered to the roof of Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane’s largest trauma hospital.

QAS spokesman Stephen Johns later said Ms McKenzie had ‘life-threatening injuries’ and ‘I have never seen or heard of anything like it.

“She suffered significant multiple trauma to her extremities, but was conscious and able to talk to paramedics, who were able to stabilize the lady,” he said.

“It’s just a miracle she had the sense to pick up that phone real quick and get that help. Otherwise it would be an absolute tragedy here today.’

A resident of Ballandean said the small community was shocked by the news.

Claire McKenzie's horrific injuries were described as a work-related accident, but Ballande's neighbors said the quiet 61-year-old was only mowing to reduce the risk of wildfires on her property

Claire McKenzie’s horrific injuries were described as a work-related accident, but Ballande’s neighbors said the quiet 61-year-old was only mowing to reduce the risk of wildfires on her property

Mrs. McKenzie had bought the tractor and forage harvester (above) to clear her 50 acres of undergrowth ahead of bushfire season and three years after flames threatened the small town of Ballandean

Mrs. McKenzie had bought the tractor and forage harvester (above) to clear her 50 acres of undergrowth ahead of bushfire season and three years after flames threatened the small town of Ballandean

“She keeps to herself, she’s a very quiet person,” says an 83-year-old neighbor.

‘She was a farmer, she has gardens, she loves nature.

“She had bought a tractor and chipper to try to keep her property fireproof and was just mowing the lawn when it happened.”

The town, which is on the NSW border south of Stanthorpe, was evacuated in 2019 when bushfires threatened to engulf the small community after destroying about 2,000 acres of surrounding land.

With a population of less than 200, Ballandean is the site of several vineyards in the Southern Downs region, including Ballandean Estate Wines – the state’s oldest family winery, founded by Angelo Puglisi, who is considered the ‘father of the Queensland wine industry’.

The quiet fashion enthusiast had moved to the small town 150 miles southwest of Brisbane in 2016 after spending three decades crafting couture and bridal outfits and launched her Wedding Desire business through online handmade and craft site Etsy.

Claire McKenzie operated fashion and couture businesses in Victoria and Brisbane before buying her home (above) on a 50 acre estate in historic Ballandean, home of Queensland's founding wine industry

Claire McKenzie operated fashion and couture businesses in Victoria and Brisbane before buying her home (above) on a 50 acre estate in historic Ballandean, home of Queensland’s founding wine industry

According to her Etsy and Linkedin profiles, Ms. McKenzie makes wedding dresses, bridal jewellery, candles and other items, loves vintage style and sells “to all parts of Australia, Spain, the US and the UK.”

In her online business websites, Ms. McKenzie is described as ‘a coffee lover and fashion enthusiast…a lover of style, creativity and vintage – with over 30 years of experience in the bridal industry’.

In a 2013 interview with Polkadotwedding.com, Ms. McKenzie said she found inspiration by “searching the world for ideas.”

“There’s an endless stream of ideas available online, and combining this with my passion for rustic/vintage weddings, there’s no end in sight right now.”

She said her online craft making and selling business was “inspired by my son’s wedding in the countryside, scheduled for 2014.”

“(I) decided to open my Etsy shop with just a few items…then it just grew, lots of ideas popped into my head, and in my spare time I would make them.”

GoFundMe – To help Claire McKenzie is online here.