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Flying Doctor killed in Africa

Wednesday, 30th March, 2011

The local Flying Doctor Service is in mourning following the death of one of its doctors.

Sydney general practitioner, Lynne Dowd, who worked for the RFDS's South East Section, was killed on Friday in an accident while holidaying in South Africa.

The South African Press Association (SAPA) reported that Dr Dowd and her husband, Bruce, were climbing a large boulder called Brawn's Knob in Limpopo on Thursday with two other couples when lightning struck them.

All six, including another Australian couple, suffered burns and were flung apart and Dr Dowd lost consciousness, SAPA said.

"A piece of the rock broke off, rolled and landed on Dowd," police spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Ronel Otto told the Volksblad daily paper.

She was taken to Mankweng Hospital in a critical condition but did not regain consciousness and died the following day, Volksblad reported.

RFDS SE Section's Clyde Thomson said the service was in shock, as would be the town of Lake Cargelligo where she had been working for the past four and a half years.

"It's very sad for the RFDS and particularly for that community which will miss her," Mr Thomson said.

"It will be like them losing their resident GP.

"We're very saddened by the news and we certainly feel for their family.

"We're having trouble coming to terms with that ... you don't expect that to happen, to be hit by lightning on holidays."

Dr Dowd, 51, was based in Sydney but conducted a clinic to the central west town every eight weeks.

She worked with the Rural Women's GP Service and was part of a team of around 28 female GPs who travel to country areas that don't have a woman doctor.

Mr Thomson said Dr Dowd would spend one day and one night in Lake Cargelligo per visit.

"She was quite dedicated to that town," he said.

"She would stay a day and night (training) community health staff at night, giving tutorials, helping them keep their skills set current."

The doctor also visited Wilcannia and Menindee on occasions, most recently in 2007.

Mr Thomson said he felt for Dr Dowd's husband and two children, aged 19 and 23.

"We send sympathy to her family. We hope her husband recovers and he comes back to Australia safely." BDT/AAP

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