Tragic death at ferry

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son

FAM­ILY and friends are mourn­ing the tragic death of Moss­man man Ju­lian Wlo­daeczyk, while po­lice re­main in the dark over what caused his car to go over­board while on the ferry cross­ing the Dain­tree River on Mon­day morn­ing.

About midnight on Mon­day, the 62-year-old was in his white Toy­ota Camry, the only ve­hi­cle on the ferry, re­turn­ing from the Dain­tree, when 30m from the bank his car lunged for­ward into the river.

It took emer­gency ser­vices sev­eral hours to lo­cate and pull the car out of the river.

Moss­man Fire Sta­tion cap­tain Melissa Collins was one of the first on the scene about 1am and said ferry op­er­a­tor and owner man­aged to hook the car with an an­chor to bring it closer to the bank.

‘‘We used a tow-truck to get it out the rest of the way once we had a vis­ual,’’ she said.

‘‘We had peo­ple in boats search­ing the river as well both up­stream and down­stream and the level two res­cue guys came up from Cairns in case we needed them.

‘‘The SES were also there and pro­vided great as­sis­tance and we had re­ally good help from mem­bers of the pub­lic.’’

One wit­ness said he was fish­ing nearby and heard screams for help and saw the ferry lights were flash­ing.

The man, who made a re­port with po­lice, ap­proached the ferry op­er­a­tor who told him the car had driven in to the river and had been un­der for 15 min­utes by then.

Moss­man CIB De­tec­tive Sergeant Trevor Per­ham said he su­per­vised the re­sponse and it is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the Foren­sic Crash Unit in Cairns.

‘‘It is be­ing treated as a fa­tal traf­fic ac­ci­dent and in­quiries are be­ing con­ducted to es­tab­lish the cause, but the in­ves­ti­ga­tion still has a long way to go,’’ De­tec­tive Per­ham said.

‘‘There has not been a lot of de­vel- op­ments, in­ves­ti­ga­tions are con­tin­u­ing in­clud­ing a me­chan­i­cal in­spec­tion of the ve­hi­cle, post mortem and med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion and ex­am­i­na­tion of CCTV footage from the ferry and in­ter­view­ing wit­nesses.

‘‘ We haven’t drawn any con­clu­sions, Sergeant Fisher of the Foren­sic Crash Unit will be re­port­ing to the coroner once those in­quiries have been com­pleted and the coroner will draw con­clu­sions and reach a find­ing to the cause of death.’’

The man who trav­elled with Mr Wlo­daeczyk across the ferry ear­lier in the day has come for­ward to as­sist po­lice in their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Di­vi­sion 10 Coun­cil­lor Ju­lia Leu was a close friend of Mr Wlo­daeczyk and said he will be greatly missed by ev­ery­one who knew him.

‘‘I have known Ju­lian for over 35 years, he was a loving fa­ther and friend to so many and we are all shocked and dev­as­tated by this un­ex­pected tragedy,’’ she said.

‘‘He had an ab­so­lute heart of gold, al­ways cheery with a laugh and a great twin­kle in his eye.

‘‘My heart goes out to all his fam­ily, chil­dren and friends. He will be sorely missed.’’

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cause of death will take sev­eral months. Any­one with in­for­ma­tion should con­tact Crime Stop­pers on 1800 333 000 or the Cairns Foren­sic Crash Unit on 4044 8888.

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