Part 3. Fr O'Shea's accident
On 2 March 1971, Fr O’Shea was crank-starting his automatic Humber in the garage beneath the church after the battery had gone flat. The car lunged forward. Both his legs were broken and he was pinned to the wall as the car’s motor kept running. After almost an hour, the car burst into flames and the motor stopped. Fr O’Shea was finally able to push the car away.
Three boys from Peakhurst High heard Fr O’Shea’s cries for help.
An article in a Sydney newspaper said Fr O’Shea could have died in any of three ways: loss of blood from a cut artery, carbon monoxide poisoning or from the flames from the burning vehicle.
“I prepared myself to die – but I’m convinced now that the Lord didn’t want me that day,” said Fr O’Shea. He was 52 years old at the time.
It is recorded by Bettina Golding that Fr O’Shea was a much-loved priest and “father-figure” who “could always be relied upon to give help and advice in any way if needed.” He left the parish in good shape with $70,000 in the bank.
In his memoirs, Fr O’Shea says “the twenty years I spent there [Peakhurst] were amongst the happiest years of my life.”
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