Flying gas bottle kills man in wild Sydney storms

Police give a press conference outside Day Street police station this morning. Photo: Charlie Bullis.

A man was killed in Central Sydney after being hit by an airborne gas bottle, thought to have been blown off a balcony in last night’s wild storm, write Charlie Bullis and James Yousif.

The 37-year-old was walking past 135 Harrington Street in The Rocks just before midnight yesterday after having a few drinks with friends at a nearby hotel, when he was struck by the 9kg cylinder.

It was labelled a “freak accident” by NSW Police, who are examining an apartment block next to where it happened. This morning they issued an appeal for information and asked the public to check their barbecues for missing gas bottles and any footage of the incident.

Sydney recorded 74,000 lightning strikes last night between 10pm and 2am and 15mm of rain in just a 20-minute period. High winds also wreaked havoc, bringing down trees and damaging buildings.

Speaking outside Day Street police station this morning Detective Inspector David El-Badawi said: “We believe it’s come from a nearby balcony, that’s why we are asking for witnesses to get in contact.

“To anyone who is using a gas bottle, we just need to know the circumstances behind this man’s death, this is a tragic accident.”

Bystanders said the gas bottle “came from above” and the man was still conscious and talking before his condition worsened. Police arrived on the scene and performed CPR before paramedics took over.

The man was struck while walking along Harrington Street last night. Photo: Charlie Bullis.

The man, who is yet to be named, was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital with a fractured humerus and a collapsed lung after the bottle appeared to strike his shoulder, but he did not recover.

Police reported the victim was married and that the friends that witnessed the incident were said to be traumatised after the event and were offered counselling.

Detectives attended the scene on Harrington Road today to continue their investigations and are reviewing CCTV footage obtained from the site.

The hotel near to where the man was struck opened for business as usual at noon today but the management refused to comment on the incident.

Officers are calling for mobile phone vision, or anyone who may have information that could assist to contact detectives at Day Street Police Station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.