A dispute over parking has left a 75-year-old Bulli resident fighting for his life, and a 25-year-old construction worker under investigation by police.
Police and paramedics were called to Hospital Road, Bulli around 7am on Wednesday morning after the worker, who was working on the Bulli Aged Care Centre of Excellence, allegedly struck the elderly man in the neck.
It’s believed the man then fell and cracked his head on the ground and suffered a stroke.
A NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said the man sustained neck and head injuries and was transported to Wollongong Hospital.
However the man was later transferred to Prince of Wales hospital, where he remained in intensive care in a critical condition on Thursday night.
But for it to come to this – for my elderly neighbour to be punched to the ground – is just absolutely shocking.
Wollongong Police have confirmed they are investigating the incident, which is believed to have started when the worker moved the resident’s garbage bins to park his vehicle.
A neighbour, who rushed to the scene after seeing emergency services, said he was shocked to see his elderly neighbour lying on the ground.
He said NSW Health Infrastructure acted swiftly, escorting the worker from the construction site shortly after the incident.
The Mercury understands the worker, and the sub-contracting company, have since been dismissed from the job.
“There’s been ongoing parking issues since construction began on the Bulli centre,” the neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said.
“They often come to a head on Wednesdays, when bins are collected, and residents are frustrated that workers are moving the bins to park their cars. In many instances bins haven’t been emptied.
“We understand that people need to park but you can understand people’s frustrations.
“But for it to come to this – for my elderly neighbour to be punched to the ground – is just absolutely shocking.”
A NSW Health Infrastructure spokesman said no comment could be made on the incident, as it was under police investigation. However he added: “Health Infrastructure has a zero tolerance policy towards violence”.
However the Health Infrastucture spokesman said the project team continued to work with contractors and residents to minimise parking impacts during construction.
“When complete, the centre will feature approximately 60 new parking spaces onsite, to address the parking requirements for the facility,” he said.
“Traffic management has been an ongoing feature of project planning and delivery.
“A construction traffic and pedestrian management plan is in place to minimise impacts and ensure the safety of residents, patients, site personnel and hospital staff.”
The $50 million centre – which will be operated under a private-public partnership – will include a public hospital with inpatient services and a co-located residential aged care centre operated by IRT.
It’s expected to be fully operational by 2020.