Added by Monique Robinson on March 3, 2011
Organisers of an Australian surf life saving competition were warned they would be held accountable if a competitor died in the dangerous surf, a police inquest has revealed.
The Brisbane Coroners Court on Wednesday heard how Superintendent Jim Keogh warned officials at the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships just one and a half hours before NSW lifesaver Saxon Bird, 19, perished after a stray surf ski hit him in the head in the reportedly cyclonic conditions on the Gold Coast on Friday March 19, 2010.
Supt Keogh told the court he was worried that organisers had not taken concerns about the rough conditions seriously; “I don’t know if you’d term it apathy, but perhaps a lack of understanding of the severity of the consequences of these decisions,” he said.
He added that “I felt it important to bring to their notice that they would be brought to account for any decisions or actions they made pursuant to the continuance of this event.”
Field commander of the day, Sergeant John Kazmierowicz, said that noone had told him of the strong southern sweep that has caused difficulties for competitors all day. He also explained that although he had attended beach drownings prior to the event, his knowledge about surf conditions and search and rescue was limited. Supt Keogh said this is not a prerequisite for police officers overseeing surf life saving events.
The inquest now continues.