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Sophie Delezio

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sophie Joy Martin Delezio (born 3 April 2001) is an Australian woman who was injured in two serious traffic accidents when she was young.

She first gained media attention in 2003, when she was badly injured when a car crashed into her day care centre. She suffered third-degree burns to 85% of her body and was hospitalised for several weeks where she lost both feet, a number of fingers, and an ear.[1] She was involved in a second serious car accident in 2006.

Her family has become major fundraisers and activists for victims who suffer conditions like Sophie's, and have also assisted in fundraising for the Children's Hospital at Westmead.


Delezio is the first daughter of Ron Delezio and Carolyn Martin and the younger sister of Mitchell Delezio and half-sister of Catherine Delezio and John Delezio.[2]

First accident

Delezio first came to the attention of the public on 15 December 2003 when she and Molly Wood, both two years old at the time, were badly injured when they were trapped under a burning car which had crashed through the window of the Roundhouse Childcare Centre in Fairlight, Sydney, Australia. She suffered burns to 85% of her body, was hospitalised for several weeks, and lost both feet, one hand, and her right ear. Wood suffered burns to 40% of her body, but has since made a good recovery.[3] Delezio was released from Westmead Children's Hospital on Monday 21 June 2004. The circumstances of the accident, and the rescue of the children by passers-by and members of the emergency services (for which a number received bravery awards)[4] made them the subject of national news coverage.[1][5]

The driver who crashed into the child care centre, Donald John McNeall, was 68 at the time of the accident. He was cleared of negligent driving before a magistrate's court as it could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he did not have a seizure.[6]

In late 2004, Delezio's parents founded the Day of Difference Foundation, a charity dedicated to raising funds for research into pediatric burns and related diseases.[7] As of 2009, the foundation has raised over $6.5 million.[8]

In January 2006, Delezio was enrolled at Balgowlah Heights Public School. The school was extensively refurbished to accommodate Delezio's needs.[9]

Due to the driver not being found liable, nobody was responsible for Delezio's extensive medical costs. However, the driver's compulsory third party insurance provider, the NRMA, covered the costs ex-gratia.[10] Due to this loophole in insurance coverage the NSW government introduced the Children's Special Benefit[11] for children under 16 where no insurance coverage is available and later introduced a similar scheme to cover third parties of any age injured in an accident where nobody is liable called "Blameless Accidents".[12]

In 2005, journalist Mark Whittaker won a Walkley Award for his harrowing account of the rescue of dozens of children from inside The Roundhouse Childcare Centre by a large group of people who were unknown to each other.[13]Originally published in The Weekend Australian, the account was adapted to become the first chapter of Whittaker's book, Brave.[14]

Second accident

On 5 May 2006, Delezio made national headlines a second time when she was again badly injured in a road accident. While being pushed across a crossing by her nanny in a wheelchair (her service dog Tara by her side) near her home in Sydney's northern beaches, she was hit by a car and thrown 18 metres. Delezio suffered a heart attack, a broken jaw, a broken shoulder, bruising to her head, numerous rib fractures and a tear to her left lung. She was treated at the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.[15] She left hospital and returned home to continue her recovery on 7 June 2006.[16]

An 80-year-old man, John George Sharman, was charged in relation to the second accident with "dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and not giving way to a pedestrian on a crossing".[17] Having pleaded guilty Sharman was in October 2006 placed on a good behaviour bond for 18 months and suspended from driving for a year.[18]

Delezio's father maintained that while accidents do happen, the number of incidents occurring at the pedestrian crossing in question means it must be reconstructed.

On 16 July 2006, Delezio's story was told on Channel 7's True Stories series.[19]

Life after the accidents

Delezio returned to classes at Balgowlah Heights Public School on Thursday, 20 July 2006.[20]

In June 2011, it was reported that she aspired to be a paralympic swimmer.[21] She later switched to rowing.

In 2020 she appeared in Series 5 of Anh's Brush with Fame.


As a result of Delezio's accident, more than $14 million has been raised by the foundation the Delezio family set up,[22] and public awareness for the need for adequate support and services for pediatric burns patients has increased. Some of these funds were raised at the Kids 4 Kids Benefit Concert held on 10 September 2006. The NSW Government announced that it is investigating the possibility of reducing the age for mandatory medical checks for drivers from 80 to 75 years of age, and it agreed to install traffic lights at the crossing where the accident occurred.

Periodically Delezio and the two accidents are referenced in the media particularly when concerns are raised about road safety in the vicinity of educational institutions.[23]

Sophie Delezio's father Ron Delezio was an Independent candidate in the 2017 Manly state by-election.[24]


  1. ^ a b Petersen, Freya (4 June 2004). "Super Sophie - any tougher, and she'd rust". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  2. ^ "Sympathy for Sophie Delezio's sister Catherine". The Daily Telegraph. News Limited. 20 June 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2012. CATHERINE Delezio's troubled life came screaming back at her in a Sydney court yesterday - sexual abuse, life as a street kid, estrangement from her dad Ron, her sister Sophie's two horrific accidents.
  3. ^ "Meet Molly Wood - the raw strength of a child's bravery". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  4. ^ "New South Wales Fire Brigades Bravery Awards Presentation". Legislative Council Hansard. Parliament of New South Wales. 27 October 2004. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  5. ^ Norrie, Justin (6 May 2006). "A second blow too cruel to contemplate". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  6. ^ "Child-care centre crash driver says sorry". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 May 2005. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  7. ^ "Day of Difference Foundation". Day of Difference Foundation. 2006. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  8. ^ Swanson, Carolyn (4 April 2009). "Love conquers all". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  9. ^ MASTERS, CLARE (1 February 2006). "Sophie gives another lesson in determination as she begins school". The Daily Telegraph. p. 5.
  10. ^ "The World Today - Case reveals third party insurance loophole". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  11. ^ [1] Archived 19 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ [2] Archived 20 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "2005 Walkley Winners". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 December 2005.
  14. ^ "Brave: Ordinary Australians and their Extraordinary Acts of Courage". by Mark Whittaker, Pan Macmillan. 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  15. ^ "We're very fortunate: battler Sophie's parents". The Sydney Morning Herald. 29 May 2006. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  16. ^ [3][dead link]
  17. ^ "Sophie Delezio driver case adjourned". The Age. 16 August 2006. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  18. ^ [4] Archived 3 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Gadd, Michael (15 July 2006). "Mother of all courting disasters". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  20. ^ "Sophie Delezio returns to school". The Age. 20 July 2006. Retrieved 4 February 2007.
  21. ^ "Sophie Delezio: My Paralympian Dream". New Idea. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  22. ^ "Good can come out of bad".
  23. ^ Fife-Yeomans, Janet. "Childcare centre danger: Heavy traffic remains free to rush past nearby children". The Daily Telegraph. Nationwide News Ltd. Retrieved 1 March 2016. "They don’t look after the safety of the children. It’s a big issue and we are going to have more Sophie Delezios. She deserves more than that".
  24. ^ "List of Nominated Candidates". Electoral Commission NSW. Retrieved 8 April 2017.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 10 June 2021, at 14:09
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