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Inquest into four-year-old's drowning hears final evidence

Nelani Koefer.
Nelani Koefer. Contributed

THE coronial inquest into the drowning death of a four-year-old girl near a dam in Central Queensland in 2008 heard its final evidence yesterday with the coroner suggesting dam operator SunWater did not provide sufficient signage.

Nelani Koefer and her mother were swimming in the Mackenzie River, downstream from the Bedford Weir in Blackwater in November 2008, when the inflatable rubber walls of the fabridam burst.

The girl's body was swept from her mother's arms and found the following day.

Counsel assisting the Coroner John Aberdeen said leaks in the rubber barriers had not been properly maintained since its installation in 1997.

He said SunWater was responsible for a lack of adequate signage and warnings alerting the community of risks surrounding the fabridam.

"There were areas downstream from the weir used frequently and over long periods of time for recreational activities and swimming and fishing," he said.

"Someone should have gone for a walk down the river on a weekend to see what was going on.

"Specific signage outlining inundated areas so people could see it should have been extended to areas were recreational activities were taking place.

"People were at risk, real people including children and it is unacceptable they be excluded."

Mr Aberdeen said should a siren have been installed at the dam wall, the public downstream would have been made aware of any danger.

"There needs to be something that can be heard by people 50m down the river," he said.

Coroner David O'Connell said the fabridam burst "on a hot, sunny afternoon in Central Queensland".

The coroner's findings are expected to be handed down next year.

Topics:  drowning, sunwater




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