Awning collapse victim 'saved lives'
An award-winning Australian developer pushed three people out of the way and took the full weight of a falling awning that crushed him to death, witnesses told his partner.
Chris Walton, 54, a developer and conservationist who put together the internationally acclaimed Ecovillage project at Currumbin, was killed yesterday by an awning that collapsed at Burleigh Heads on Queensland's Gold Coast.
Partner Kerry Shepherd said witnesses told her that her Brisbane-born husband saved their lives.
"Chris was Christmas shopping," Shepherd said.
"And we were told by witnesses that he actually pushed three people out of the way and took the full force of the collapse himself.
"Certainly the witnesses are saying, that he saved their lives.
"So he died a hero really.
"He created a legacy and a legend, then died a hero as well."
Shepherd said the Burleigh community had rallied around her family since the accident.
"I have 40 or 50 people streaming through my home to look after me and my 13-year-old son," she said.
"Some of them slept over last night just to make sure that we are safe. There's a meals roster being done up. I mean it is a pretty incredible place.
"That is just the residents and the community giving back to us."
She said her partner always had a tremendous passion for the environment.
"It was in everything that he did. To have the legacy that he left in environmental development which won many awards, it is a tremendous legacy to leave."
She said her partner was an inspiring man.
"I just want to express Chris' passion for the environment. To leave a legacy for world's best practice for environmental awards, is really something to leave."
His legacy is the Ecovillage, deemed one of the world's leading ecological developments, winning major awards from the United Nations, the International Real Estate Federation and the Property Council of Australia.
In 2008, it was named the World's Best Environmental Development.
In 2006, it was named Queensland's Best Sustainable Development by the Queensland Government and was also awarded the Environment Minister's Award for Business Sustainability.
The Ecovillage has also won numerous Gold Coast design awards.
The Gold Coast's acting mayor, Cameron Caldwell, expressed his sympathy to Walton's family.
"This tragic loss will no doubt be felt by his family and friends for many years to come," Caldwell said.
"On behalf of council, I pass on our condolences to his family and also pass on our thoughts to those injured in this incident."