Toddler's miracle escape in dance studio crash

Malika Elizabeth and her son Jesse, 2. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Malika Elizabeth and her son Jesse, 2. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

A Wollongong mum who scooped her toddler out of the path of a car that ploughed through a dance studio has described her terrifying ordeal as like a scene from a bad movie.

‘‘You have no idea, he was right in the way of the car. He was literally standing there,’’ Malika Elizabeth said on Wednesday.

‘‘I’m just so blessed.’’

It was Ms Elizabeth’s first visit to the dance and circus class for toddlers at Dancespace 383 on Glebe St on Tuesday.

‘‘The irony is, I’d been saying for months I was going to give it a try and this was my first time,’’ the 43-year-old said.

The car crashed through the building’s front glass window and through a double brick wall. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

The car crashed through the building’s front glass window and through a double brick wall. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

The class had just finished and Ms Elizabeth was preparing to leave when the sound of a car outside caught her attention.

‘‘We’d all been sitting, the playgroup had just finished and I’d just put my shoes on - putting my shoes on was huge because I had the traction to go.

‘‘If you can imagine, we’ve looked out the window, we’ve heard this car revving in front, kind of like (the driver) is in trouble or something.

‘‘Then he’s crashed through the window, shattered the front window, come through it and we've all gone ‘what the hell?'

‘‘I just feel like holding him. He brings such joy to people every day and I can't imagine life without him.'' Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

‘‘I just feel like holding him. He brings such joy to people every day and I can't imagine life without him.'' Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

‘‘That’s when he reversed out at great speed, he’s just fanged around and we thought he was going to crash into the other cars behind ... then he stopped and we thought ‘thank god he’s stopped’ and that’s when my mum instinct kicked in because I just ran for Jesse.’’

Ms Elizabeth said the Toyota Camry came ‘‘flying in through the window and around the corner’’.

‘‘Jesse was right in front of where the car was coming, I just ran for him.’’

As she grabbed her 22-month-old son, she was knocked to the ground, leaving her with bruises and stiffness to most of her body.

Jesse has just a bump and scratch on his head.

Both were treated at Wollongong Hospital and allowed to leave.

Ms Elizabeth can’t believe how lucky they were.

‘‘Just look at this beautiful boy,’’ she said.

‘‘I just feel like holding him. He brings such joy to people every day and I can't imagine life without him.

‘‘It’s just like something out of a bad, bad movie, I just kept thinking if I’d just sat there and watched he would have died.’’

Inspector Greg Houston from Fire and Rescue NSW Wollongong commended the brave actions of the parents who protected their children from the fast-moving vehicle.

‘‘There was some unbelievable stories of good luck, as well as courage from parents. There was one woman who was able to scoop up her young son just in time, he was in the direct path,’’ he said.

When the three fire crews from Wollongong arrived, Insp Houston said there was still smoke and a smell of burning rubber inside the studio.

‘‘Outside it was calm, but step inside the studio and it was chaos. There was a lot of distressed people, people with injuries and it was then a matter of working with ambulance to assess and treat those people,’’ he said.

Insp Houston said he was proud of the efforts of all the emergency services on scene as incidents involving children were always challenging.

‘‘It always hits home a little harder than any other incident, but you fallback on your training,’’ he said.

‘‘I think even as a parent you feel for these little kids and the distressed parents because they’ve been injured or seen how lucky they’ve been.’’

‘‘The people that are there are having the worst day of their life and our job is to rectify that situation or make it a little bit better.’’

Close call shared at Review

Malika Elizabeth will share her thoughts and feelings about Tuesday’s incident in Coledale on Sunday as part of a regular community event she started 12 months ago.

Her friend, who was also injured in the crash and remains in hospital, was due to speak at the event, called the Village Variety Review.

‘‘She suffered broken ribs, a broken leg. It was just so horrible,’’ Ms Elizabeth said. 

‘‘She was going to talk about gratitude and appreciation.

‘‘It’s just a really great community event that people of all ages can enjoy together,’’ Ms Elizabeth said.

‘‘We have a lot to be grateful for, I’m feeling really blessed.’’

The review will be held at Coledale Community Hall from 3pm to 5.30pm on Sunday.

Doors open at 2.30pm. 

There’s home-made food on offer and tickets are $5 to $10.

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