Posted on 01 Mar 2018
The father of a teenager killed at Hanging Rock Falls is taking action against the NSW Government
The devastated father of a teenager killed in a tragic incident at Hanging Rock Falls is taking action against the NSW Government department responsible for managing the popular area.
Louis Vanderstappen, 19, died on December 30, 2014, when swinging from a rope tied to a nearby tree. Unfortunately his foot became tangled, causing him to hit a nearby rock before falling into the Wadeville water hole below and subsequently drowning.
His was the third death at the falls in the 10 years prior with at least another five people suffering serious injuries during that period.
His father has contacted Slater and Gordon to help highlight this horrible incident, which he believes could have been avoided if the NSW Department of Trade and Investment Wadeville Reserve Trust had managed the site appropriately.
The rope was removed after Louis’ death.
He said the department should have removed the rope as soon as anyone was injured – let alone killed – at the site.
“How was that rope allowed to stay there after two other people had lost their lives?” he said. “The risk of going and enjoying a place like Hanging Rock should be no greater, even less, than crossing a street. It should be safe for young people to enjoy it in their own way.
“An appropriate management plan that should be regularly updated and executed would have shown that removing that rope was a necessity. It really is a no-brainer.
“It’s just not good enough and I believe the public need to be aware of this shocking mismanagement, which has forever affected our family.
“I only hope that through this action more deaths and/or horrible injuries are avoided or at least reduced to a risk no greater than crossing a street.”
Slater and Gordon Lawyer Melinda Griffiths said the family had been completely traumatised by this devastating incident.
Ms Griffiths said as the authority responsible for the maintenance of the water hole it was fairly and squarely on the department to take action before anyone had lost their life.
“It would have been extremely easy for that rope to be removed, but it was just left there and remain removed if a regular site-verification had been done according to their management plan,” Ms Griffiths said. “You would think that after one injury – let alone one death – something would be done to make the area safer.”
According to the Royal Life Saving National 2015-16 Drowning Report, a total of 21 per cent (58) of the 280 deaths were in rivers, creeks and streams, while 57 per cent (160) drowned while swimming or recreating. The number of people who died as a result of falls into water was 14 per cent (34).
The report also highlighted that New South Wales recorded the highest number of drownings with 34 per cent (96).