Cyclist Who Died Avoiding Magpie Attack Remembered As 'A True Legend'
Alan Seaman – a cyclist and highly-regarded member of the Illawarra community - is being remembered as “a true legend” after he died trying to avoid a swooping magpie.
The retired principal was cycling with three friends along the popular track at Nicholson Park in Woonona on Sunday morning when he saw the bird stalking another cyclist ahead.
“I think he was distracted by the magpie,” said Nathan Foster, who was the one under siege.
“He just didn’t take the bend in the track and went up and hit the fence.”
The 76-year-old, who was strapped into his bike, went over the railing head first and split his helmet in half.
Foster and his wife Kathy, who are Illawarra Surf Life Savers, began first aid until paramedics arrived but admitted they knew straight away that he was in a “bad way”.
He was flown to St George Hospital suffering critical head wounds and a broken neck, injuries he didn’t survive.
“It's unfortunate the old gentleman didn't pull through, but we gave it everything we had, with what we had on scene,” Foster said.
On Monday morning Alan’s grandson, Michael Koutsoufis, wrote about his “pop” on Facebook, saying: “Such an inspiring man. A true legend, and a great husband and father."
He also posted a photo of the pair drinking Victorian Bitter stubbies together captioned, “The next beer’s on me, pop”.
The bird is well known as a serious menace in the area, particularly at this time of year.
But, despite the pleas of locals, the council says there's nothing it can do to “move it on” as the animal is a protected species.
“I just want to emphasise to the community, this is the time when magpies swoop and it's just part of the natural behaviour of magpies. Please be on guard,” Wollongong Mayor Gordon Bradbery told reporters.
The magpie was allowed to stay in his beachside nest with council workers installing additional warning signs to alert cyclists they’re there, and advising them to dismount and walk their bikes through their territory.
Magpie attacks on cyclists are not uncommon.
Earlier this month a complaint made by a cyclist about a swooping magpie has resulted in the bird being shot by the local council, sparking anger among the community and experts.
The cyclist immediately complained to council after she was attacked along Old Windsor Road in Bella Vista in Sydney's north-west.
READ MORE: Magpie Shot Dead Following Council Complaint
READ MORE: How Not To Get Swooped This Magpie Season
Every year, from late August to mid-October, a small percentage of highly aggressive and terrifyingly sneaky maggies take to the skies. They swoop and attack from your blind spot, repeatedly and without warning.
Any cyclist is targeted if they're riding within 100 metres or so of a nest.
This season has already been a big one for attacks, with 272 people reporting being swooped, with still some weeks to go before the so-called peak season.
According to community website Magpie Alert, Queensland has copped 42 percent of this year's attacks, followed by NSW on 19 percent.
More than 70 percent of the attacks were on cyclists, and 21 percent on those walking.