Separate accidents have claimed the lives of two well-known northern Australian pastoral industry identities, and left a third seriously injured in hospital in Townsville.
Police have confirmed that two people were killed in a light aircraft accident near Roma around 5.30am this morning.
The deceased were the pilot, well-known live export and cattle industry identity John Quintana and his passenger, Paul Charles Maher, better known as Charlie Maher, a leading livestock agent.
Mr Maher was the chief executive officer of Ray White Livestock, a position he took over in November last year, having previously served as NSW livestock manager for the same company.
Mr Quintana, an American by birth, was a prominent live cattle exporter through his company, WallCo International during the 1980s and 90s. At one point in the mid 1990s WallCo turned over close to $50 million in export sales annually, comprising about 100,000 cattle, into markets like the Philippines, Brunei and Indonesia.
He also had significant investment with partners in northern cattle production in the NT including at different times, Waterloo, La Belle Downs, and Killarney Stations. He sold his Killarney interests some time ago to his partners.
Mr Quintana also at one point owned the Rodger's Creek feedlot near Warwick, on Queensland's Daling Downs, and had a reputation as an experienced horseman.
He and Mr Maher were heading north from Roma enroute to Cloncurry and then planned to fly to the Northern Territory to conduct cattle work.
The alarm was raised when they failed to arrive in Cloncurry as expected this morning.
“Charlie became our key man in November last year and he was doing a fantastic job,” Ray White Rural and Livestock chairman Paul White told Beef Central this morning.
“It is a terrible thing, it is going to leave a very big hole in the industry, not just for us but for the whole livestock sector. It is a terrible blow to everybody, just a shocking thing," he said.
“Charlie was a highly valued member of our company as well as the whole industry, he was just a wonderful contributor to the livestock industry as well as our company."
“Everybody here is in shock.”
Mr Maher was based in Bathurst, NSW. He had previously built an independent business called CTM, which was later purchased by Landmark. He worked for Landmark for several years before joining Ray White Livestock three years ago.
Cloncurry producer seriously hurt
Meanwhile in a separate incident, another northern cattle industry identity, Zander McDonald, from Devoncourt Station near Cloncurry, is recovering in hospital in Townsville after a serious windmill accident nine days ago.
Mr McDonald fell four metres while repairing a mill on the property, sustaining serious head, chest and spinal injuries.
He was described as being in a stable condition yesterday, after earlier being in a medically-induced coma.
Mr McDonald’s family company, MDH Pty Ltd, is one of Australia’s largest beef producers running about 175,000 cattle across northern Queensland cattle holdings.
For some years he has chaired the industry’s North Queensland regional beef research committee, providing guidance and feedback on the industry’s R&D effort.
Zander’s wife, Julie and father, Don, provided a brief statement to Beef Central this morning:
“Zander’s family is very grateful for the professional care he is receiving in Townsville Hospital, and for the great support from the Cloncurry Ambulance, Mt Isa-based rescue helicopter and the Royal Flying Doctor Service which transferred him to Townsville,” the statement said.
“The McDonald family appreciates the support that has been received from the community, and has advised that no further comment will be made at this time.”