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Divers expect to recover body, car

The Dennison Creek crossing, 16km from Nebo on the Oxford Downs-Sarina Road.
The Dennison Creek crossing, 16km from Nebo on the Oxford Downs-Sarina Road. Peter Holt

A TEAM of five Queensland Police Service divers are today expected to recover the body of a driver who attempted to cross a swollen creek early yesterday.

Police and emergency workers were alerted by parked motorists waiting on the bank of Dennison Creek, 16km from Nebo on the Oxford Downs-Sarina Road, after they saw a vehicle drive past them and plough into the fast-flowing water just after 2am yesterday.

An extensive ground and air search was conducted by police, a swift-water rescue team, Nebo State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers and the RACQ-CQ Rescue helicopter yesterday morning but they were not able to locate the vehicle or its driver.

However, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service personnel found a car mat and sunscreen near the bank of the creek.

“After heavy rainfall last night (Monday) Dennison Creek was flowing rapidly and the causeway was well and truly over and had been since about 10pm,” Mackay police search and rescue co-ordinator Sergeant Tim Henderson said.

“There were vehicles parked waiting for the creek to subside, then they have observed a vehicle driving past them doing about 100kmh. The driver has driven straight into the water and witnesses saw the rear lights of the vehicle fall off the causeway and downstream.

“As a result police were notified and we began our search. A QFRS swift-water rescue team was called in but it has not been able to get into the water because the water flow is just too strong. This morning (yesterday) it has been 20 to 25 knots.

“The crossing is approximately 80 metres wide where it is swollen by floodwaters. However, information from locals tells us that there is a 10-metre drop on either side of the causeway, so we believe the vehicle could be trapped down there.

“The rescue helicopter has been searching the area to make sure there is no-one clinging to trees or walking around further up the creek in distress. Firefighters have located a car mat and sunscreen, which may be items from the vehicle.

“The type of vehicle is still unknown to us as we have had different reports on what people thought they saw. We don’t even know how many people were in the vehicle at the time. At this stage no-one has been reported missing.

Sgt Henderson said divers from Brisbane were on their way to Mackay yesterday afternoon and would resume their search at 10am today.

“The divers are bringing with them sonar equipment, which will include an underwater camera. We have been told that they may have some difficulty as there are already cars at the bottom of the creek from previous incidents but we are hoping the water flow will ease so we can send the divers down.”

The road was reopened just before lunch yesterday.

However, Nebo and Sarina SES and police remained at the creek. Sgt Henderson pleaded with motorists not to drive around road closed signs or through swollen creeks.

“Drivers need to be alert and aware of the conditions around them. Obey road signs. In this instance there is very clear signage before approaching the causeway.”

The incident follows the death of Alan Kane, 81, who was driving across a causeway on Upper Ulam Road last Friday when his ute slid off the road into Station Creek.

Kane’s death was the second in a week after Sydney woman Kay Joy, 55, drowned when her four-wheel-drive was swept into a flooded creek near Dysart.

Anyone with information that could assist police should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


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