Outpouring of grief after boy’s drowning in Lake Hume tragedy

TRIBUTE: Flowers left at the scene of the tragedy on Wednesday. Picture: MARK JESSER
TRIBUTE: Flowers left at the scene of the tragedy on Wednesday. Picture: MARK JESSER

TRIBUTES have flowed for a life cut short by a drowning tragedy on Lake Hume.

Family members watched on in vain as paramedics made desperate attempts to save the Wodonga boy, eight, after he was dragged from the water at Kookaburra Point on Tuesday.

He had gone missing while swimming for about 10 minutes and was taken from the water about 6.40pm.

Paramedics had tried to resuscitate the youth over a lengthy period of time without success.

Ryan Van Ree, 20, had been boating and witnessed the CPR attempts.

CALM: The scene of the drowning on Wednesday morning.

CALM: The scene of the drowning on Wednesday morning.

He heard a chilling scream from a woman on the bank as it became clear the boy had died.

“I really don’t know what to compare it to,” he said.

“It was like nothing I’ve ever heard before.

“It was nerve-wracking.

“I really don’t know how to explain it.”

Mr Van Ree said the water, which would normally be full of boats, was eerily quiet.

“There were a lot of people in shock,” he said.

“Quite a few people families were holding their loved ones close to them as they watched the paramedics try to do their best.

“It was quite confronting.”

Watching the emergency service vehicles and family members’ cars leaving Kookaburra Point was like watching a funeral procession, Mr Van Ree said. 

Two men stand near the boat ramp at Kookaburra Point where the boy drowned.

Two men stand near the boat ramp at Kookaburra Point where the boy drowned.

Hundreds of tributes were posted online for the eight-year-old following the news, with many praying for the boy’s family.

Friends and the boy’s extended family were at the scene when the incident occurred.

Albury and Border Rescue Squad deputy captain Paul Marshall said everyone needed to be incredibly careful around water.

“We can’t stress enough how dangerous it can be – I think everyone needs to be hypervigilant,” he said.

Mr Marshall said there there wasn’t one factor behind the recent spate of drownings and near deaths, which have occurred in pools, rivers, small streams and the lake.

Royal Lifesaving Society Australia national chief executive Justin Scarr said local people were more likely to drown in local areas than visitors.

“Our hearts go out to the family,”he said.

“A child drowning is a very tragic experience for everyone involved, including the rescuers and paramedics.”

Supervision was the “number one prevention tool” for stopping young people from drowning, he said.

Mr Scarr said there had been relatively few recent drownings in Victoria. 

NSW has had 21 deaths since Christmas by contrast. 

“It's at least five times higher than previous years,”he said.