Residents re-live tsunami Source of fatal wall of water to be re-examined
GRANTHAM residents will be given the chance to retell the harrowing tale of the “inland tsunami” that claimed 12 lives in their town four years ago.
From this morning, a handful of residents will be given leave to face another public hearing into the disaster that swept through the Lockyer Valley town in January 2011.
For some, it will be the sec- ond time in three years they have given evidence publicly about the events.
The inquiry, sparked partly by the insistence of Independent Peter Wellington when he struck a deal with the new Labor Government, is expected to give several victims leave to appear before former Solicitor-General Walter Sofronoff QC. The public hearings will start in July.
Residents Ken and Fran Arndt suspect local landmark Wagner’s Quarry was to blame for the three-metre wall of water that struck them as they fled their home in their Hi-Lux ute.
They had abandoned their home after their daughter called at 3.30pm urging them to escape.
Minutes after speeding away from their home the couple was struck by what they estimated as a 3m-high wall of water travelling toward them at 80km an hour.
“It just picked us up like a cork,’’ said Mrs Arndt, who, then aged 65, went on to cling to a tree with 71-year-old Mr Arndt for 2½ hours until a rescue helicopter plucked them to safety.
Mr Arndt is a former timber cutter who credits a tough bush upbringing to the couple’s survival.
He has done his research and believes Wagner’s Quarry contained large volumes of water before a wall crumbled and contributed to the “tsunami” that hit him.
The Wagner family has welcomed the inquiry and said they were confident it would show the quarry mitigated the flood. There has been ongoing disquiet about the findings of previous inquiries into the tragedy.
The nearby township of Murphys Creek was also destroyed in the disaster.