‘He was supposed to come home that day’

As soon as her sister’s car pulled up and its headlights filled the driveway,Sharon Bradney knew something had gone horribly wrong.
Nanjing Night Net

Rushing to the porch, she told Sharon there’d been an accident, but Sharon could only manage to scream “no”.

“And I knew, I just knew,” Sharon said.“You think you know what it’s like to lose a parent, but until you’ve lost one, you don’t know. The way he went, it was just such a shock. I didn’t get a chance to tell him how much I loved him.”

Herdad Roger had drowned after his tinnieoverturned in the Murray River at Bungowannah in December 2014.

He was one of the 68 people who have drowned in the Murray between 2002 and 2015, making it the number one river drowning blackspot in Australia.

And he was among a large proportion of those who were not wearing a lifejacket.

Sharon couldn’t sleep for days after the news, and still thinks of her father every day.

The hit song of December 2014 was James Bay’sHold Back the River, which reminds the Lavington mum of her dad every time it plays:

Hold back the river, let me look in your eyes,

Hold back the river, so I can stop for a minute and see where you hide.

With summer upon us again, Sharon wants to send a message to the Border community about water safety, stressing it was important to respect the river’s unpredictable power.

Reflecting her loss, she refers to Roger as if he is still with her.

“He checks water levels, he always has a ruler at the bank, and he’ll see how much has risen overnight,” she said.

”He shouldn’t havebeen on the water that day, it was too quick …he was meant to come home that day.

“Think about your friends and family before you take that risk.”

Sharon’s warning comes as anew report from the Royal Life Saving Society revealed there were 14 drowning deaths in the Murray while boating between 2005 and 2015, with 93 per cent of the deaths males, and 50 per cent aged between 18 and 34.

More than 20 per cent ofthese deaths were in small powered boats less than five metres long, houseboats and on kayaks.

No lifejackets were worn in 42 per cent of cases, and alcohol was involved in 21 per cent of the deaths.

Royal Life Saving Societyriver safety co-ordinator TristanStrong said the current in the Murray was exceptionally strong, and implored boaters to ensure they wearlifejackets this summer.

“I’ve seen full-sized gums get taken down the Murray, you or I are notgoing to be able to hold against it,” he said.“It’sjust too easy for us to be pulled down.”

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