With almost one drowning recorded at Wagga Beach every year, Daniel Mahoney is hoping this summer season will be different.
But with hot and dry weather forecast into 2019, the NSW SES local controller said residents would undoubtedly turn to the river in hoards, searching for a cool reprieve to the scorching summer days.
Mr Mahoney said there was plenty of information, campaigns and knowledge about the dangers of inland waterways across the city, but swimmers needed to pay attention and be responsible.
The call for caution comes after the Royal Life Saving National this week revealed its Drowning Report for 2018. According to the data, Wagga accounted for close to five per cent of deaths in rivers creeks and streams across NSW.
This follows the reveal one quarter of national drowning deaths had occurred in inland waterways, with Wagga accounting for one of those 61 fatalities.
The body of 28-year-old Mark Timms was recovered at Wagga beach in January this year, almost 12 months after another man, 42-year-old Peter Abd-El -Kaddous, tragically drowned.
They added to a growing list of victims, who have drowned in the depths of the notoriously dangerous Murrumbidgee River. It remains among the top 10 most deadly rivers in Australia, according to drowning reports, having claimed 21 lives across 15 years. Of these deaths, 11 took place in Wagga.
While a total 249 drowning deaths across Australia was a decreased on the previous year’s report, RLS reminded swimmers they were not invincible in the water, especially those jumping in to rivers, creeks and streams.
Volunteers from the NSW SES and Volunteer Rescue Association will begin gearing up for a busy summer in coming weeks, but Mr Mahoney said he hoped they would not have to hit the water in search of another missing swimmer.
“We can’t predict future,” Mr Mahoney said. “We can only prepare for it.”
With 72 per cent of drowning deaths involved men under the influence of alcohol, he urged residents to be sensible.
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