What was meant to be a fun day out with a friend turned tragic for a 12-year-old schoolgirl when she was swept over a weir at Caboolture and drowned.
It was a fatal accident that took place seven years ago but the lesson learned from the tragedy still stands: beware of weirs and fast-flowing water.
The young girl drowned when was dragged over the weir wall by the strong current and disappeared in the turbulent water.
After an intense search by water police and SES volunteers, her body was discovered about 15km downstream from where she had last been seen in the water.
In an effort to avoid a repeat of this tragedy, Seqwater held its annual Weir Safety Day, which urges the public, especially young people, to be aware of the potentially fatal consequences of swimming in weirs and flooded waterways.
It was developed with input and support from Hannah’s Foundation – Australia’s leading drowning prevention, awareness and support group, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service and Emergency Management Queensland.
Seqwater spokesman Mike Foster said after heavy rain, an overflowing weir could become a “drowning machine” due to the volume of water flowing over the person underwater, making self-rescue, and even assisted rescue, almost impossible.
“Seqwater is responsible for 51 weirs across South East Queensland,” Mr Foster said. “Weirs are large walls which hold back river water so it can be released slowly downstream. They are not for swimming.
“Educating young people to rethink their behaviour is vital to preventing future drowning tragedies in weirs”.
As part of the day, representatives from Seqwater, Swift Water Rescue and Hannah’s Foundation gave a special presentation about the dangers of swimming near weirs to Caboolture State High School students from Years 7 to 9.
Hannah's Foundation Founding Director Andrew Plint, who launched the charity after his daughter Hannah drowned in the family pool at Laidley in 2007, said prevention was the best defence against drowning.
“Each year almost 300 people drown in Australia, tragically my daughter Hannah was among those victims,” Mr Plint said. “I miss her terribly and I honour her memory by spreading the word about water safety and drowning prevention.”
“There is no cure for drowning – only prevention and the only way people can do that is by making smart choices in and around water.”
Mr Foster said Weir Safety Day was part of Seqwater’s Play it safe campaign, which encouraged the community to take responsibility for their own safety when visiting the region’s dams, lakes and parks.
Andrew Plint of the Hannah's Foundation joined Seqwater and firefighters from the Caboolture Fire Station in highlighting the dangers of weirs and fast-flowing water to students at Caboolture State High School.