seven minutes between life and death?

Sneaky - posted on 04/19/2011 ( 8 moms have responded )

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The triple-0 operator who took the emergency call of Toowoomba flash flood victim Donna Rice criticised her for driving through floodwaters.

The Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry was on Tuesday played the final phone calls of Ms Rice and her son Jordan, 13, who became trapped in a flash flood in the city's CBD on January 10.

A surviving son, Blake, 10, was in the courtroom to hear the chilling audio, along with his father John Tyson and other family members.

Ms Rice was heard telling the operator: "I'm stuck and the water is just about ready to come up the door".

The operator, Senior Constable Jason Wheeler, replies: "Why did you drive through floodwater?"

A distressed Ms Rice replies: "It wasn't this bad then", to which Sen Const Wheeler replies, "yeah, well".

After exchanging details and requesting a tow-truck, he finishes the phone call by saying: "you shouldn't have driven through in the first place".

Seven minutes later, Jordan Rice called triple-0 and spoke to a Queensland Fire and Rescue operator.

Blake's frantic cries could be heard in the background, as well as Ms Rice telling them to get on top of the car.

The inquiry continues, with Sen Const Wheeler expected to appear.
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8238...

A MOTHER who made a desperate call to 000 moments before she died was told off for driving through floodwaters that ripped through Toowoomba on January 10.

Donna rice's call to 000 - while trapped in Toowomba's CBD moments before she was swept away to her death with her son, Jordan - took 28 rings until the call was answered.

She was told off by the officer who took the call despite, her desperate pleas for help.

"Why did you drive through flooded waters?" he yelled at Ms Rice.

The audio from the 000 call was played to the Queenland Floods Commission of Inquiry today.

The officer told Ms Rice to spell her name several times, before she requested a tow truck which he said to her "you ring the tow truck company yourself."

Her son Jordan's desperate call to 000 took 10 rings until it was answered by an officer, who told him to tell the woman beside him at the time to stop yelling.
"If you don't tell me where you are we can't help you," the officer said.

In the background of the call a woman was heard screaming, "get on the roof" of the car.

Family and friends of Ms Rice wept in court as the call were played in Toowoomba's Magistrates Court today.
http://www.news.com.au/national/alert-sy...

I am so pissed of at this moron - if he had BOTHERED to do his job and send a police car out straight away, maybe two people would not be dead?

I think he should be charged - do you?

Some more news stories about the apparently avoidable death two members of the rice family:
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environm...

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/special...

8 Comments

View replies by

Iris - posted on 04/19/2011

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It might have happened in a instant and it might have been chaotic.
But 12 ringings? And then 10 ringings? And being scolded for driving into a flash flood minutes before your death? That is unacceptable. Emergency is there to help, not to criticize and they should never waste time in criticizing the circumstance.

Nikki - posted on 04/19/2011

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This is so sad, I have a huge lump in my throat reading this, these wounds are still so tender. I really hate thinking about this flood. I cannot being to imagine what was going through this poor mother's thoughts in the last minutes and to be treated with such disrespect is; well really un Australian.

I don't honestly believe that they could have been saved even if help had of been dispatched, the flood was just too fast. Although I in no way condone the operators behaviour at that point he possibly didn't understand the seriousness of the situation at the time. Regardless however even if it was a minor flood, it is not his place to yell at someone ringing for help.

[deleted account]

I doubt they would have gotten to her in time. Reading this made me tear up. I hadn't heard about this until just now and almost all of Australia would know her story.
I think he should be reprimanded. Big time. even fired but charged? No i think thats to much. It was the biggest freak of nature and lots of people lost their lives.

Sneaky - posted on 04/19/2011

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I should point out that I do agree that there were 'extenuating' circumstances - the flood happened so fast that I imagine 000 was hammered with hundreds of calls in a few minutes and I don't know if she managed to convey the urgency of the situation to the operator when she first rang. What I don't understand is how one women and two children trapped in a car in rising flood waters does not warrant emergency assistance?

I do agree with you Sal - if emergency assistance had been dispatched at the initial call (instead of 7 minutes later) that does not necessarily mean that they would have been saved, but it's a question that everyone is always going to wonder about isn't it?

It has also occurred to me that if emergency assistance had been sent at the initial phone call, maybe they would have been saved and someone else would have died instead. I do not know how their emergency services were distributed that day but I assume that is why they are holding an inquiry.

I just can not believe that she called someone for help (even if she was not fearing for her life at the moment she rang) and instead of understanding and compassion, got yelled at. I feel sick thinking about the terror she must have felt in those moments, knowing that she had called emergency services and apparently they didn't care.

Stifler's - posted on 04/19/2011

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There was no warning on this flood. I'm surprised they had time to call anyone. No one in Toowoomba can be blamed for *driving in flood water*, it happened with absolutely no warning. He should be charged.

Sal - posted on 04/19/2011

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even if police had been dispatched at the second she rang i am really at odds to think this lady could be saved, it was a disaster zone, the police that would of got there first are only men, not super heros, she was trapped in water that was fast moving and rising so fast the police probally wouldn't of been able to anything anyway...

Sal - posted on 04/19/2011

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this was such a freak day, no one could anticipate the extreme that was happening, neither the lady who entered the water or the operator who took the call, one minute it was raining the next the town was washed away, and while it would piss me off if it were my loved one (and it very well could of been my bil and nephew were actaully stuck in a cross street that day trying to get home across town), and the operator should of handled the situation according to procedure and training there is no excuse for entering flood water it is just so dangerous, people get stuck and then emergency servies and just every day people passing risk their lives to save them there has been radio and tv ads here for months that say no uncertain terms to to enter flood water, the point of this campaign was to take the decision out of it at the last minute when you are in an emergency, i can;t remember the specifics of the ads but the base was " i don;t drive in flood water" kind of like an affermation,

Louise - posted on 04/19/2011

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This is terrible and the operator obviously did not realise the seriousness of this ladies plea. No excuse for him but I am sure this will haunt him for the rest of his life.

This is chilling to read let alone hear. I hope that we can learn from this so that it never happends again. What happened in the states was watched all over the world along with the footage of the latest Japanese disaster. I was watching the news live when the wave came over and swept away an entire village. I have never felt so sick in my life knowing that I had just watched hundreds of people die. The sheer feeling of helplessness was over whelming.

The operator should be charged with neglect of duty and sacked, but I can not see how he can be charged for anything but stupidity.

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