Inquest probes teen’s trail death
Standing in a gully on an isolated bush track near Exmouth in searing heat, Gordon Williamson knew his son Ewan was in trouble.
The pair were 400m from their car when the 14-year-old, who started feeling faint about 45 minutes into their trek along the Badjirrajirra Loop Trail, told his dad he could not go on.
Mr Williamson raced to his LandCruiser and called triple-0, but the police officer on the other end of the phone struggled with his Scottish accent.
Ewan was still semi-conscious by the time his dad got back to him, but his condition was quickly deteriorating and he was pronounced dead later that day.
The police response to Mr Williamson’s calls for help were put under the spotlight last week during an inquest into the December 2012 death of the Scottish teenager.
Opening the inquest, counsel assisting Toby Bishop said Mr Williamson called triple-0 at 2.03pm from Cape Range National Park and asked for police.
His exchange with Senior Constable John Diviney lasted seven minutes, and at 2.15pm the job was logged as a “priority three” welfare check.
When an officer from Perth called the station in Exmouth to alert local police about the emergency, he told them he believed it should be a priority two.
State Coroner Ros Fogliani will investigate whether Sen. Const. Diviney classified the incident correctly and whether he responded to the emergency call appropriately.
Mr Williamson told the inquest when he first called police, he was focused on getting his son off the track and did not realise how dire his medical situation was.
He said he was frustrated by how long it took Sen. Const. Diviney to understand him during the triple-0 call, describing him as “flippant”.
“He didn’t make a lot of effort to try and understand,” he said.
“It’s seven minutes, I think that’s bloody ridiculous.
“It shouldn’t take seven minutes to get my point across.”
Two police officers left Exmouth about 2.30pm and arrived at Mr Williamson’s car about 25 minutes later. It was another 10-15 minutes before they found Ewan, who was struggling to breathe and was having seizures.
First Class Constable Richard Du Cloux put Ewan over his shoulders and tried to carry the 85kg teenager up a rocky incline on a day when the temperature reached up to 45C. Volunteer ambulance officers arrived about 3.30pm, but Ewan soon stopped breathing and could not be saved.
An autopsy found he had severe heat stroke and exhaustion.
Ewan lived in Scotland and came to WA to visit Mr Williamson, who lived in Geraldton.
Ewan Louis Williamson, his father Gordon Williamson and his mother Janet Butler.