Fury at tragedy on Dain­tree ferry

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Grace Ma­son

THE son of a man who died af­ter driv­ing off the Dain­tree Ferry three years ago is still strug­gling to come to terms with the tragedy.

Paddy Wlo­daeczyk said he now hated the trip across the Dain­tree River and the fam­ily hoped for com­pen­sa­tion from the ferry com­pany for 62-yearold Ju­lian Wlo­daeczyk’s death.

An in­quest re­sumed in Cairns Mag­is­trates Court yes­ter­day, with Coro­ner Kevin Priestly slam­ming the com­pany Sir­ron’s abil­ity to man­age risk at the time of the 2013 death as “woe­fully de­fi­cient”.

“There seems to be a ba­sic knowl­edge of risk man­age­ment,” he said. “The ma­te­rial I saw his­tor­i­cally in re­la­tion to this ves­sel sug­gests there is not the level of un­der­stand­ing that would help im­ple­ment in the doc­u­ments.”

Sir­ron di­rec­tor Christo­pher Nor­ris said there had never been cause for safety con­cerns on the ferry with the bol­lards and ropes pre­vi­ously in place.

“There was in­ci­dents where ve­hi­cles did try to drive through them and the bol­lards stopped them,” he said. “It worked for 15 years ...”

“(Given the num­ber of ve­hi­cles which cross each year) the small num­ber of in­ci­dents that have hap­pened haven’t bought at­ten­tion to the ferry.”

Sir­ron was is­sued with an im­prove­ment no­tice by Mar­itime Safety Queens­land in Septem­ber last year fol­low­ing a safety au­dit and Mr Nor­ris said changes had been made, in­clud­ing a boom gate.

He said pre­vi­ously it had been “very hard” to get MSQ safety ad­vice as there were few car fer­ries in the state.

“We were ad­vised what we had was ad­e­quate be­cause it had never hap­pened to us.

“We’re prob­a­bly the first ferry to have done this (safety upgrade) now.”

Out­side court, Paddy Wlo­daeczyk said the fam­ily were still fu­ri­ous and up­set.

“We’re pretty up­set that we never got any­thing out of it,” he said.

“Since that ac­ci­dent hap­pened I’ve only been on the Dain­tree Ferry about three times and I used to go over all the time ... I hate go­ing over that thing now. Money will never bring my dad back, but it would be some re­as­sur­ance.”

The Coro­ner will hand down find­ings at a later date.


A flo­ral tribue at the Dain­tree Ferry

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