Sherry drowning inquest adjourned
A CORONIAL inquiry into the drowning deaths of Sydney couple Joseph and Carole Sherry at South Ballina Beach in January had an initial hearing yesterday before being adjourned until August.
Ballina Shire Council general manager Paul Hickey and a legal representative of the Department of the Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) attended yesterday and will return to the Ballina Courthouse on August 18 when the inquiry is listed for a three-hour hearing.
Mr Hickey said the council had been listed as a party of interest and expected to contribute to a discussion on surf lifesaving.
“This is not an adversarial hearing,” Mr Hickey said.
“We will be outlining what’s provided and give information on the surf lifesaving environment.”
He will attend the August hearing with Jillian Pratten, council’s manager of open spaces and reserves.
Mark Pittavino, area manager of the DECCW’s Richmond River area, said he also expected to attend the inquest.
He said signage along the beach was likely to be one subject examined at the hearing.
The Sherrys drowned after they entered the water to rescue their children, who had got into difficulty on the unpatrolled beach near the South Ballina Beach Holiday Park, where they were staying.
Mrs Sherry saved 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 - raised the alarm.
The Western Sydney couple’s deaths sparked debate about the standard of 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, also hopes to attend the inquest.
He said the foundation would be very interested to learn if there was adequate warning signage at tracks and car parks, and if there was enough advanced warning at tourist spots.