River Crossing

River Crossing

Why learn to cross rivers safely

Drowning Information

Print out the following worksheet. Click here

Use the following link to answer the questions

Water Safety year in review.

Click here to find out the cumecs (cubic metres per second) of the Waimak (take the 24hr min reading) and the Selwyn rivers. 

Drowning’s Shock Waimate

(Taken from a news paper article)

Hamish and Glen were part of a class that ranged in age from 12 – 15 years.  Their class teacher was an experienced teacher and also involved in scouting instruction and outdoor activities, which included lifesaving. On the 10th February 2000 she drove 13 of her class by mini bus to the river hole for a half-day outing.  She had discussed this with and obtained the permission of the Rector and had notified parents by a detailed circular.  One parent said she would help and arranged to meet the class at the river hole at lunch time.  The class took togs, warm clothing and barbecue food.  The day was not that good weather wise.  It was cool with light drizzle in the morning but calm.  They arrived about mid-day.  The class teacher set up and some of the of the boys in the class swam across the water hole.  The swimmers returned for the barbecue lunch and the pupils ate and chatted.  The parent help had not arrived and in fact did not do so at all.(Photographs taken at the event) show that most pupils did not go swimming and were content to paddle and play on the shallow shelf at the edge of the pool. After lunch there was about one hour left until it was time to depart.  Hamish and two other students that was there. The river hole was calm and had virtually no current. Glen said he wanted to go across and asked the class teacher if there was time for him to do that.  According to two pupils the class teacher agreed provided he went with another pupil.  This happened and Glen swam very strongly to the other side and climbed onto the bank and stood for about 10 minutes.  The class teacher then advised the pupils it was time to pack up.  Glen then said he did not think he could get back and that he was cold.  The class teacher gave encouragement and suggested he swim back accompanied by Hamish and two other boys.  Glen started to swim back with the same apparent power as before.

It appears that Glen reached a point beyond half way and reasonably close to the edge of the shallow shelf and safety when some event occurred which interrupted his stroke and difficulties developed with tragic results.  In any event Glen did not continue swimming and was seen thrashing his arms about in the water and clearly in difficulty.

The class teacher’s account is that she waded into the water to her waist and reached out her hand which Glen was able to take.  Glen pulled her off her footing and she slipped into the deeper water.  The teacher describes how Glen tried to climb out on/over her and this caused her to go deeper into the pool.  She then saw Hamish and Glen descending towards her.  She explains how she grabbed both and pushed them upwards thinking they would surface, get air and others would be able to help them out.  By then she herself was in difficulty and needed air and slowly reached the surface.  She was assisted from the water by a pupil where she discovered that neither Hamish or Glen were out of the water.

The account given by other swimmers with Glen was essentially as follows:  When Glen stopped swimming the two swimmers accompanying him tried to help.  Glen did not respond, and pulled his rescuers under the water.  Hamish came quickly to help as did another boy but Hamish was then grabbed and pulled down by the leg. A number of pupils entered the water to look for Hamish and Glen but by then they had sunk into the deeper part of the pool and could not be found.

Post mortem showed that both boys died by drowning.

  1. What went wrong?

  1. What could have been done differently to make those these accidents less likely to happen?