Driver misses the boat

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By ANGELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

A DRUNKEN Vic­to­rian tourist drove his ve­hi­cle straight into the Dain­tree River last Satur­day night.

Ferry driver Chris Har­ris watched on in hor­ror from the other side of the river as the 34-year- old man, who later recorded blood al­co­hol read­ing of .165 - more than three times the le­gal limit - ap­proached the north­ern ramp too fast and “ended up in the drink”.

Mr Har­ris scooped the driver and his mate out of the wa­ter as they sat on the roof of their sink­ing Toy­ota Camry.

“One of them was def­i­nitely go­ing to go back in and we had to re­strain him so he wouldn’t, I don’t think he was aware we have crocodiles,” he said.

“He was pan­ick­ing, half in shock and just wanted to get his pos­ses­sions, the young lads lost ev­ery­thing as you can imag­ine.

“The car was still float­ing when they were sit­ting on the roof and when we got them off the roof onto the ferry the car slowly sunk and twisted down with the cur­rent as the tide was run­ning out.”

Ferry op­er­a­tor Chris Nor­ris said there was noth­ing that could be done to save the car and the pos­ses­sions as they sunk to the bot­tom of the Dain­tree River.

“The car ac­tu­ally floated re­ally well sur­pris­ingly and once the cur­rent took it, it floated down­stream,” he said.

“It was only a lit­tle car and the car lights were still on and you could see the lights as it sunk and by the time they got back down the river it was just about gone.

“All we could do was make sure they were both safe, we know there are crocodiles and you don’t want to be swim­ming around there at night time or day time.”

Mr Nor­ris said he has never seen an ac­ci­dent like this oc­cur dur­ing his time as ferry op­er­a­tor and said he could not un­der­stand that even with the area lit up, why the driver did not re­alise the river was there.

“We just wanted to make sure the two guys were safe be­cause they were pretty shaken up by the sounds of it, as you would be,” he said.

“One minute on the road and the next minute you’re in the river and your car and all your gear is gone.”

Po­lice at­tended the in­ci­dent around 8pm and ar­rested the man, charg­ing him for drink- driv­ing and also driv­ing with­out due care and at­ten­tion, to ap­pear in the Moss­man Mag­is­trate’s court on Novem­ber 7.

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