DON’T LET OTH­ERS DIE

Calls for bet­ter mo­bile cov­er­age af­ter Out­back deaths

NT News - - FRONT PAGE - JACK PRICE

A CEN­TRAL desert MLA has called for the roll­out of mo­bile phone cov­er­age in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties to be ex­pe­dited fol­low­ing the tragic deaths of four peo­ple af­ter their car broke down on a dirt track.

Stu­art MLA Scott McCon­nell said the deaths were “tragic” and called on gov­ern­ments to fast track the ex­pan­sion of mo­bile cov­er­age to re­mote com­mu­ni­ties, in the hope sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions might be avoided in fu­ture.

“Mo­bile cov­er­age is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal — most peo­ple are get­ting all their data and news through mo­biles in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties,” he said.

“It’s not just call­ing, it’s also about mes­sag­ing and Face­book — if there was that greater con­nec­tiv­ity and they’d been off­line for a long time, some­one might have no­ticed sooner.”

Yes­ter­day, com­mu­ni­ties were heart­bro­ken fol­low­ing the dis­cov­er­ies of a young fam­ily and a small child who had “suc­cumbed to the el­e­ments” af­ter their un­road­wor­thy ve­hi­cle broke down on a re­mote ac­cess road north­east of Wil­lowra.

An emo­tional Su­per­in­ten­dent Jody Nobbs said the whole of Cen­tral Aus­tralia was dev­as­tated by the dis­cov­er­ies.

“It’s not only heart­break­ing for that com­mu­nity [where the fam­i­lies come from], it’s heart­break­ing for the broader com­mu­nity,” he said.

“Equally, the emer­gency ser­vices fam­ily that re­sponded — (it’s a) par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing event for us.”

Af­ter set­ting out for Jarra Jarra out­sta­tion last Fri­day, the bod­ies of a 19-year old cou­ple and their three-year-old son were only found on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

That night po­lice were alerted to the pos­si­bil­ity a 12year-old boy had been trav­el­ling with them and, af­ter an ex­ten­sive land and air search, the body of a small child was lo­cated 120m from the fam­ily on Thurs­day.

In the near-40 de­gree heat, the four of them had walked about 4.5km from their bro­ken-down car, which was out of fuel and had a flat tire.

Po­lice re­main un­cer­tain when the ve­hi­cle broke down.

Pic­ture: TWIT­TER/KA­T­RINA BEAVAN/ABC

A road sign to Jarra Jarra and (inset) a map of where the in­ci­dent hap­pened

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