by Jeff Fleischer(Sydney Morning Herald, October 27, 2003)
A Sydney daredevil is recovering today after a failed stunt, in which he set himself on fire and drove a mountain bike off a public toilet block at Coral Sea Park in Maroubra.
The 39-year-old man is in stable condition, a Prince of Wales Hospital spokesperson said. He has minor burns from the incident, and will undergo surgery today for a fractured wrist sustained during the stunt.
Officers from Maroubra Police Station witnessed the stunt while on patrol about 7.40 pm on Sunday. They said the man took his mountain bike to the roof of the toilet block, doused himself with petrol from a jerry can, set himself alight and rode across the roof. He then rode off a makeshift wooden plank, intending to land on a pile of mattresses and bags of soft clothing he’d set up about five to six metres from the toilet block.
“But he didn’t make the distance, and he fell hard on the ground,” a police spokesperson said.
The man unsuccessfully tried dousing the flames with a blanket. The fire was eventually extinguished by the policement using a nearby garbage bin full of water, which was apparently set up for just such a purpose. An ambulance was called, and the man was taken to Prince of Wales Hospital for treatment.
“If the officers hadn’t arrived then, his burns would have been far worse,” a police spokesperson said.
The man told police he considers himself a stunt man, and this was a stunt he hoped to add to his repertoire. Officers interviewed a group of witnesses, including 10-12 children at the scene who watched the attempt. A police spokesperson said it wasn’t clear if the children were invited to watch the stunt or just happened upon it.
The toilet block sits near one end of the park, across the street and downhill from nearby residences. While a children’s playground occupies part of the other end, there is a wide empty area around where the stunt took place.
Today, a few small pieces of foam, apparently from the mattresses, appear to be the only remnants of the incident.
No charges have been filed, but Maroubra police are still investigating.