TRAGEDY: Chifley Local Area Command duty officer Inspector Andrew Spliet has urged people to be safe on the water. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 112314cops1aA 36-YEAR-OLD Bathurst man died in a tragic accident at Chifley Dam on Saturday night while trying to save the life of his five-year-old daughter.
The pair were kayaking when their vessel overturned and they both fell into the water, and while the man managed to save his daughter, he failed to resurface.
Paramedic Inspector Rhys Dive, who attended the tragic search, said the man was at the dam along with his family and friends when the “horrible” tragedy occurred.
“[The kayak] upturned and they both ended up in the water and he managed to lift his child onto the boat,” attending paramedic Inspector Dive said. “The first thing he did was save his little girl.”
Inspector Dive was among emergency services personnel called to the scene at 7.14pm to join the frantic search.
“There were already people searching on kayaks and fishing boats and swimming when we arrived,” he said.
Chifley Local Area Command police and Bathurst State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers began a search of the water and the man’s body was discovered just before 9pm.
Police yesterday confirmed the man and his young daughter were not wearing life jackets at the time of the accident.
Inspector Dive has remembered the husband and father of three as a dedicated community member who regularly volunteered with the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church’s Rapid Relief Team.
“We know him, that church group is part of the group that come and feed us at emergencies,” he said.
Plymouth Brethren Christian Church spokesperson John Wells said the deceased man had been a member of the church’s Rapid Relief Team for a number of years.
The team is made up of church members who volunteer their time to provide catering to emergency service personnel during times of crisis.
Chifley Local Area Command duty officer Inspector Andrew Spliet said the man and his daughter were paddling in water that was 3.5 to four metres deep when the incident occurred.
Despite the flat water, and innocuous nature of kayaking, Inspector Spliet said people should still be aware of the risks in deep water, especially if they are not strong swimmers or are with children.
State Emergency Service Central West region controller Craig Ronan said people need to be adequately prepared when undertaking any water-based activities.
“Anybody going on a boat should have a PFD [personal floatation device] on and children and adults should have one for their own safety,” he said.
The cause of the man’s death has not yet been determined, and Inspector Dive said he did not want to speculate, but he said while the upper water level of the dam is quite warm, it is very cold lower down.
Police will now prepare a brief for the coroner.
Source:Western Advocate, Bathurst