Thousands spent to find child
RESCUERS launched an extensive search for a seven-year-old South Casino boy feared drowned in the Richmond River on Sunday.
The search, estimated to have cost thousands of dollars, ended a short time later when the boy was found hiding in bushland.
“It’s better to go for the worst case scenario in our response,” Lismore Sergeant Craig Ahrens said.
The boy was reported missing at 4.50pm by his grandmother.
He had climbed out of a bedroom window at her South Casino home.
It was thought the boy, who could not swim, was on his way with a 12-year-old friend to the Richmond River, which was flowing fast after recent heavy rain.
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter and teams from the police, Rescue Volunteer Association and Casino SES all joined in the search, which lasted 50 minutes.
Extensive patrols of the river bank were made on foot while the helicopter patrolled from the air.
About 5.50pm, highway patrol officers found the boys hiding in bushland in Simpson Parade, Casino.
Helicopter pilot Tom Hulse said he was unable to say how much the search cost, but the average mission cost was $5000.
Sgt Ahrens confirmed the search would have cost thousands.
“But that is the price we must pay to make sure people are safe,” he said.
Sgt Ahrens said that searching for people who were not actually missing was an issue because it tied up valuable resources which might be needed for other jobs.
“I am sure he (the boy) has learnt a lesson from it,” he said.
Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Gary Cowan issued a reminder about the dangers of swimming in floodwaters
“Police urge parents to talk to their children and remind them of the dangers of going near the water,” he said.
“Police urge all parents and guardians to ensure that your children learn to swim, as well as learning the dangers associated with swimming in local rivers.”
While the Casino boy was found to have never been in any real danger, a 14-year-old boy lost his life in Black Duck Creek, near Toowoomba in Queensland, on Saturday.
The boy was a passenger in a car that was crossing a causeway.
At the time there was no water on it, but a heavy surge from a downpour upstream caused a flash flood.
The 14-year-old, believed to be wheelchair bound, was washed away.
Police found his body about 11.45pm downstream in a tree.
Rescue attempts were made even more difficult when subsequent rain flooded several creeks on either side of the accident scene, holding up emergency services teams.
A report is being prepared for the coroner.