Town mourns flash flood victim
THE woman swept to her death in a flash flood at a Bouldercombe swimming hole was a “great mum” who always put her kids first, a family member said yesterday.
Pauline Grieve’s brother-in-law Dean Grieve said the family was devastated by her loss after she was wrenched from her son’s grasp when a wall of water ripped through the Bouldercombe Gorge Resources Reserve on Sunday.
Tributes poured in yesterday for the 46-year-old Mount Morgan woman who had moved from Cairns with her family eight years ago.
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Councillor Sandra O’Brien said the Mount Morgan community would rally around the family after the tragedy.
Pauline was swimming with family at the popular swimming spot near Rockhampton with her 18-year-old son Cameron, her daughter and other relatives and friends when 70 mm of rain was dumped on the area in 15 minutes.
She was crossing the creek and got into difficulties due to the very strong current.
Police said Pauline, her son and her sister were washed down stream in the torrent and her son managed to grab hold of her in an attempt to pull her to safety.
He hung onto her as long as he could.
“He was hanging onto the bank too,” Pauline’s brother-in-law Dean told The Cairns Post.
“It was quite a while, he did all he could. When she was washed further down he went down after her but he lost sight of his mum.”
Cameron was one of the 18 people rescued after the flash flood at the gorge that washed some swimmers downstream and left others stranded on an island.
His mother’s body was found several hours later.
“Recent rain meant there was more there (water) than normal and a lot of people were out there swimming,” Dean said.
“It (storm water) apparently came out of nowhere.”
He said his sister-in-law had been enjoying the afternoon with her son and daughter Kiera, 16, and other relatives at a spot that was usually known for its low water level.
Mrs Grieve and her husband Clinton were long-time Cairns residents who had spent the past eight years in Gympie and Mt Morgan but who were on their way back to the Far North and family, Dean said.
His brother Clinton had recently returned for work and was in Cairns when he was called about the tragedy on Sunday.
“It’s been terrible, we’re all so far away,” he said.
“And to have Cameron and Kiera go through all this too.”
Mrs Grieve and her husband were well-known for their time working at Cairns business Typewriter and Office Supplies and Mrs Grieve had also been employed at a number of shops and restaurants over the years, he said.
“She was a great mother, a good wife, just a good down-to-earth person,” he said.
“She always put her kids first.
“We’re all in shock.”
Councillor Sandra O’Brien, whose constituency takes in the Mt Morgan area, knows the family and didn’t wish to comment out of respect for them.
But she did say that the Mt Morgan community would band together to help Mrs Grieve’s family.
“I’m sure Mt Morgan, which is a very inclusive community, will give the families all the support they can,” Cr O’Brien said.
“Having recently lost a family member myself, I feel their pain.”
Publican of the Bouldercombe Royal Hotel, Gordon Carter, said the gorge was a popular swimming spot and he was surprised at the tragedy.
He said water only ran through the gorge when it rained and he wasn’t aware of any time when the water had flowed so rapidly.
He said the town had experienced 70 millimetres of rain in 15 minutes on Sunday afternoon.
A Facebook group has paid tribute to Mrs Grieve and her family.
Entitled “Bouldercombe Falls Tragedy” the group describes itself as “a tribute to the victims of the horrific flash flooding incident at the Bouldy Falls on the afternoon of Sunday the 7th of February, 2010”.
“Our thoughts are with you all,” the site reads.
One user posted “My family and I were there prior to the tragic accident that occurred this afternoon. I hate to think what the people involved had to endure. My heart goes out especially to the family of the lady whose life was lost in the horrible ordeal. Shocking news. May her Rest In Peace :(.”
Mrs Grieve’s family in Mt Morgan didn’t wish to speak to media yesterday and are expected to make a statement today.
- Known as the Bouldercombe Gorge Resources Reserve
- Was the site of a gold rush during the late 1800s when it was known as Crocodile Creek.
- Is a popular swimming spot for local swimmers.
- Is the site for the Mt Usher falls.
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