Tragic death at ferry
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.