CHILD?S DEATH:FOCUS ON GATE
By ALEX EASTON
AS Trinity Catholic College, Lismore, mourns the death of one of their own, police and WorkCover have launched investigations to learn why a steel gate collapsed and killed a five-year-old child on Monday afternoon.
INVESTIGATIONS into the death of a five-year-old boy at a Lismore school on Monday will focus on why a steel gate fell on him, police and WorkCover have said.
Police yesterday said they had seized the gate, which broke away from the main fence at Trinity Catholic College in Lismore. However, they said the cause of the tragedy remained a mystery.
Police forensic officers and WorkCover investigators yesterday examined the gate at Lismore Police Station and interviewed witnesses to the accident.
An independent engineer, being brought in by police, will also examine the gate within the next few days.
The Northern Star has agreed not to publish the boy's name at this stage in accordance with his family's wishes.
The accident happened about 4.10pm on Monday, as the boy was leaving the school with his mother and younger brother via Trinity's Brunswick Street sliding driveway gate.
Richmond Local Area Command crime manager Detective Inspector Steve Clarke said witness accounts varied, but police presently believed the boy was playing near the gate when it fell.
In a statement released yesterday, Trinity principal Brother Peter said staff members at the school quickly administered CPR to the boy and called an ambulance.
Four ambulance officers treated the boy at the scene before rushing him to the Lismore Base Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Brother Peter said the accident had stunned the Trinity school community, particularly among staff and Year 12 students who knew the boy's father well, and that counselling had been arranged for anyone at the school who needed it.
The Northern Star understands that part of the school was inundated during the June 30 floods, and Lismore SES controller Lindsay Matterson confirmed that a sec- tion of the fence, well away from the gate, was knocked down during the flood.
However, Brother Peter, Det Insp Clarke and a WorkCover spokesman yesterday said they could not speculate on what may have caused the heavy steel gate to fall, or whether the flood played any role in it.
Brother Peter confirmed that the fence was built in late 2003, in the same group of developments as the school's hospitality training cafeteria and picnic huts.
A WorkCover spokesman said an inspector had ordered the school to check all other gates on its grounds to ensure their safety.
The spokesman said WorkCover's investigation would focus on why the gate collapsed. Investigators would interview the gate's manufacturer and the person who installed it.
Lismore Coroner Michael Knock said the boy's body had been sent to the Division of Forensic Medicine at Newcastle for a post-mortem, with results due this week.
Mr Knock said there would only be a public inquest into the death if the boy's family, the school or another person with an interest in the case requested it.
College community comes together to pray and grieve TRINITY Catholic College Lismore spent yesterday in mourning for one of its own. School principal Brother Peter said the death of the five-year-old son of a staff member had sent shockwaves through the school, particu- larly the other staff and sen- ior students who knew the boy's father. Students sitting yester- day's HSC exams in geogra- phy, community and family studies and engineering stud- ies were called at their homes on Monday night, so they would not learn of the death when they arrived at school for their exams. The school also contacted the Board of Studies so stu- dents whose HSC results suf- fered because of the death would not be disadvantaged. Staff were briefed on the death before school yesterday
and other students in a school assembly and then in smaller groups so they could express their own grief. A counselling service was also set up for distressed staff and students. At each point, students and staff prayed for the boy and for his family. "The paradox of this is that it tests your faith, but in the long run it's your faith that supports you," Br Peter said. Students were yesterday sent home with letters ex- plaining what had happened. "There is no question that this was a very tragic acci- dent and as the college com- munity attempts to come to terms with this incident, we must draw on our faith for support," Br Peter said. "We acknowledge this is a most distressing time for
each member of the college community, especially for the staff and senior students who know the family very well. "We all express our deep- est sympathy to the family and offer them our prayers and heartfelt support at this extremely difficult time."