John Laino


John Doody worked until he collapsed. Ambulance men brought him round and ordered him to go home. He was back within the hour.
Fellow workers refused to rest until everyone had been found

As news of the crash hit Melbourne the Government declared a disaster plan and all available firemen, ambulance officers and policemen were called in. The police threw a cordon around the disaster area, breaking it only for the constant stream of ambulances, nurse, doctors, priests, Salvation army workers, Boy Scouts and men among the passers-by who converged on the broken bridge to do what they could.

John Laino, who had been digging since he came down with the bridge, helped identify the dead and the unconscious injured.


‘He toppled forward into the bowels of the hollow span and went down inside, bouncing around like a rubber ball. Not even a bone was broken.’
Some managed to ride the bridge down

There were some miraculous tales of survival which came out in the days and weeks that followed the disaster.

In those interminable seconds before the huge span plummeted 45 metres (150 feet) into the mud and waters of Melbourne’s River Yarra, a young migrant, boilermaker’s assistant, Charlie Sant, had the presence of mind to sit down on a box and await the worst. It was too late to run.

Some others alongside him rode the bridge down and, while they didn’t walk away, managed to smile through their pain as rescue workers reached them.

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