Drown­ing re­port prompts ur­gent rivers safety plea

The Riverine Herald - - NEWS -

THE Mur­ray River is again in the spot­light, but not for a good rea­son. Ac­cord­ing to the Royal Life Sav­ing So­ci­ety’s Na­tional Drown­ing Re­port, four peo­ple died on the river dur­ing the 2016-17 fi­nan­cial year.

Among the fa­tal­i­ties was 28-year-old Sey­mour man Ash­ley Glee­son who drowned af­ter fall­ing while try­ing to jump from the Echuca-Moama bridge on Aus­tralia Day.

A 10-year study by Royal Life Sav­ing Aus­tralia re­leased in 2014 also iden­ti­fied the Mur­ray as a ma­jor drown­ing spot, with 43 peo­ple drown­ing on the river from 2002 to 2012 — a ma­jor con­cern for Ma­rine Res­cue NSW Moama Unit com­man­der Ken Bam­bling.

‘‘Much too of­ten, the vol­un­teers here are called on to as­sist in the search for peo­ple pre­sumed to have drowned in the Mur­ray,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a real tragedy and we’ll do any­thing to pre­vent drown­ings.’’

Mr Bam­bling said peo­ple must be aware of the dan­gers of the Mur­ray River as it could be a haz­ardous wa­ter­way.

‘‘It is long, wind­ing and shal­low in parts and is used by a va­ri­ety of ves­sels rang­ing from house­boats and wa­ter skiers to recre­ational fish­ers and kayak­ers,’’ he said.

Aus­tralia’s in­land wa­ter­ways con­tinue to be the lead­ing lo­ca­tion for fa­tal drown­ing, ac­count­ing for 97 deaths in 2016-17, al­most one third of the to­tal. This in­cluded 68 drown­ings in rivers.

Aus­tralia-wide, 291 peo­ple drowned in wa­ter­ways in the past fi­nan­cial year — an in­crease of nine deaths on the pre­vi­ous year.

‘‘We urge boaters to tell some­one where they are go­ing, al­ways wear a life­jacket and keep a proper look out — don’t mix al­co­hol and the river and never swim alone.’’

■ For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.roy­al­life­sav­ing.com.au

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