Judge dismisses rope swing claim

THE Lavington man who became a quadriplegic after falling from a rope swing into the Murray River at Oddies Creek Park four years ago has lost his civil case against Albury Council.

A Supreme Court judge yesterday ruled that Dylan Streller’s injury was the result of dangerous recreational activity with an obvious risk.

Justice Megan Latham said signage warned of the danger and the council had a policy and practice of removing rope swings as soon as possible.

But late yesterday his father John Streller said they were still examining their options.

“We will wait to talk with the lawyers to find out where we go next,” he said.

“In his situation, you just can’t afford to give up hope.”

Mr Streller, then aged 16, became a quadriplegic after attempting a backflip from a rope hanging from a tree over the river on Australia Day in 2008.

The champion springboard diver miscalculated his position and tried to tuck himself up when entering the water but hit his head on a sandbank.

He alleged the council failed to remove or supervise the rope swing, failed to ensure the water was sufficiently deep and failed to warn him and others it was dangerous to dive or use the swing.

Handing down her judgment in the NSW Supreme Court, Justice Latham found Mr Streller was aware of a sign on the river bank which said: “Warning: this river has strong current and very cold water”.

She found the council regularly inspected the river banks with the express purpose of removing rope swings and had asked a contractor to get rid of the rope swing in question as soon as possible the day before the accident.

“I do not accept that the council encouraged recreational use of the subject tree or any tree emanating from the river bank,” Justice Latham said.

“To the contrary, the council attempted, by the erection of signage, to discourage persons from swimming in the river and removed rope swings, or caused them to be removed as soon as practicable.”

Justice Latham said she was of the view that the risk was obvious.

“The plaintiff acknowledged that he was performing a risky manoeuvre which increased the risk inherent in diving or jumping from the rope swing and that he performed that manoeuvre because the thrill of using the rope was heightened by that manoeuvre,” she said, dismissing his case.

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