Lynelle Bourchere was presented the Pride of Australia medal for her courageous act at the Red Centre Nats in Alice Springs in 2017. Picture: Justin Kennedy
Lynelle Bourchere was presented the Pride of Australia medal for her courageous act at the Red Centre Nats in Alice Springs in 2017. Picture: Justin Kennedy

Heroism in the face of a fireball explosion

WE all like to think we would respond bravely in a moment of crisis. But whether in that split second we would actually put our own safety at risk to help is another matter.

Palmerston woman Lynelle Bouchere doesn't have to wonder if she would come through in that moment.

The 23-year-old knows.

She spent two weeks in Royal Adelaide Hospital after she suffered terrible burns to her back and legs when the crowd at Alice Springs Red Centre NATS was showered with burning fuel last September.

A fuel malfunction caused a fireball to erupt from a car performing a burnout, injuring 14 spectators.

In that split second before the fuel rained down on her, Lynelle grabbed her then 10-year-old brother Trae and used her own body as a shield to protect him from the flames.

It was an act of heroism that cannot be understated.

If it weren't for Lynelle's bravery and clear-headedness, Trae would have been badly burnt as rubber and grit rained down on them.

The two chain link cyclone fences separating the crowd from the burnout pad did nothing to protect the spectators when burning fuel sprayed from the back of a vehicle.

In the chaos after the flames tore through the crowd, Lynelle's thoughts weren't for herself but for her baby brother. She tried to get him to the ambulance as fast as she could, not realising the extent of her own injuries.

"When we did get burnt, I didn't realise I was burnt as bad as I was. I thought he was burnt because he was right next to me, and then I just tried to get him to the ambulance really before thinking of myself," she said.

But the first Territorian to receive a Pride of Australia medal this year says she didn't do anything out of the ordinary. It was a "natural instinct", she said.

"I didn't really think of it as such a heroic thing when it's something I would have done regardless of whether he was my brother or someone else's kid," she said.

Lynelle's older brother Chaise was also in the crowd that day, doing his bit to save who he could from the flames, while sustaining burns to the front of his body.

Their mother Karina Tiedeman had watched the chaos unfold on a big screen nearby, unaware her children had been caught up in the destruction.

Finally, Lynelle managed to reach her mother on her mobile.

"Mum I'm burnt, I'm at the ambulance," she said.

Lynelle and Chaise spent two weeks in intensive care in Adelaide before they returned to Darwin, and for six months, they made frequent visits to the burns unit.

Lynelle's act was remarkable, and must be celebrated. She is the Pride of Australia.

The awards honour ordinary Australians for extraordinary acts of bravery, service and charity.


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