MP hopes for better safety at deadly headland
INSURANCE concerns and a debate about which government agency is responsible have delayed installation of potentially life-saving flotation devices at Fingal headland.
The dangerous point last Sunday tragically claimed the life of yet another person in local bodyboarder Dylan Carpenter, 20, the third drowning at the point in two years.
Dylan was due to be farewelled by loved ones at a funeral at Melaleuca Station yesterday.
Calls for improved safety at the point, made following the drownings of Ryan Martin in March 2016 and New Zealand tourist Aggie Auelua in October 2015, were renewed this week.
The deaths occurred despite warning signs on the rocks and lifeguards patrolling the nearby beach.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest said he would again campaign for the State Government to fund the installation of angel rings (flotation devices) as well as extra signage warning water-goers of the turbulent conditions.
But he said a disagreement over an insurance technicality had kept the safety gear absent following the earlier tragedies.
"We've been working on these angel rings for some time," Mr Provest said.
"There's been some concerns with insurance."
He said there had been delays over a disagreement in relation to which government body would be responsible if a member of the public hurt themselves on the angel rings.
"There was a lot of discussion about insurance for some while (to decide) who would be responsible if someone walked into the angel rings and hurt themselves," he said.
With the issue now resolved - and the Department of Crown Lands deemed responsible - Mr Provest hoped the angel rings could be put in place ahead of the peak summer period.
"There is some signage there already," Mr Provest said.
He said the angel rings, an old-fashioned life preserver, may not have been able to prevent Mr Carpenter's death, but would likely save many other lives, and give rescuers more time to reach those in trouble.
"It's just an added safeguard," he said.
"It could prevent a future tragedy."
Mr Provest said he'd seen countless young people risking their lives at the headland and urged beach-goers to respect its dangerous waters.
"The volunteers and surf clubs do an amazing job out there and really the surf can be pretty dangerous. I'd encourage people to swim within the patrolled area," he said.
"We don't want a repeat of this tragedy."
Tweed Shire Councillor James Owen, who is also a patrolling member at Salt Surf Life Saving Club, urged beachgoers to take care.
"You could put up a big neon flashing sign urging people to stay clear of the headland and you would still have people choosing to swim or bodyboard off those rocks," he said.
"It comes to a point where there's only so much you can do.
"You can only hope that people pay attention and take precautions and recognise the ocean is a dangerous place."