Harbour death toll rises to six

A young man has died in hospital from severe head injuries bringing to six the number killed in the Sydney Harbour tragedy. All the deceased, believed to be four women and two men, were young, some still in their teens.

Australia awoke to the shocking news on Thursday morning that a runabout, allegedly overloaded and with 14 people aboard, had slammed into a fishing trawler off Bradley’s Head.

Five apparently died instantly, the young man passed away in the North Shore Hospital some 12-hours later.

Six young lives snuffed out. Needless to say, the police investigation, no doubt with involvement from NSW Maritime, will be thorough.

As a former metropolitan daily newspaper police reporter, I have sadly been involved in covering a number of fatal accidents, but never one of this magnitude.

The difficult side to accurately reporting on this terrible story is the string of unanswered questions.

For instance, was the driver of the runabout licensed?

We don’t know.

Was he/she affected by alcohol?

We don’t know.

Were the two vessels involved displaying the correct navigation lights?

We don’t know.

Was excessive speed involved?

We don’t know.


There has also been some confusion as to who was ‘in charge’ of the runabout.

Initial reports suggested it was stolen; later reports said it was not stolen.

It was then reported it was taken without permission by a contractor working for the boat’s owner, Balmain-based Sydney Ship Repair.

Another report suggested the boat was taken by a relative of the owner.

Confused?

Rightly so, but I have every confidence in the NSW Water Police and NSW Maritime to effectively investigate the terrible incident.

One can only hope that there’s no ‘knee-jerk’ reaction from the State Government which will see skilled and experienced boat drivers penalised or punished.