Inquest into Sherry family tragedy
A CORONIAL inquest into the drownings of Joseph and Carole Sherry at South Ballina Beach in February this year will be held at the Ballina Court House on August 18.
The inquest is expected to be brief and is listed as a three-hour sitting at this stage.
The Western Sydney couple drowned while saving their own children on the unpatrolled beach near the South Ballina Beach Holiday Park where they were staying.
Mrs Sherry succeeded in rescuing her two youngest children from a strong current, but was swept out herself.
Her husband drowned trying to save her.
Their three children, Monique, 17, Elise, 14, and Nicholas, 9, were all on the beach at the time and raised the alarm.
The drownings sent a shockwave across the State and sparked debate about adequate safety measures at the increasingly popular beach.
Andrew Plint, chief executive officer of Hannah’s Foundation, the national drowning prevention support group that organised the Sherry Family Appeal, said he hoped to attend the inquest.
“From the foundation’s perspective we will be very interested to see that certain issues are addressed,” he said.
“We want to know if there is adequate warning sign-age at tracks and car parks and if there is enough advanced warning at tourist places.
“Often we hear that the locals know that this is a dangerous beach, or that is a dangerous bar crossing, but more often than not it’s the tourists who drown.”
Mr Plint said he understood the difficulties facing surf lifesavers who already gave so much of their time.
“We can’t expect them to be patrolling every beach from daylight to dusk,” he said. “Also, what is the recommended method for self rescue? Is it to float or swim sideways?”
Mr Plint said his foundation continued to support the Sherry children and reiterated their need for privacy while they rebuilt their lives.
He again thanked thelocal emergency services for their efforts, as well as the support from locals who donated to the Sherry Family Appeal.
At last count the fund had reached $230,000 and, after funeral expenses, was earmarked for the Sherry children’s education.