In­quest probes teen’s trail death

Pilbara News - - News - Elle Far­cic

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.

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