Pasha Bulker 10 years on: Heartbreaking twists of fate as nine die during storms

Heartbreaking twists of fate Pasha Bulker off the Cowrie Hole. Picture: David Wicks
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Darren Pateman.

Westpac Rescue helicopter crewman Glen Ramplin down sick after rescuing crewmen from the Pasha Bulker. Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Darren Pateman

Westpac Rescue helicopter crewman Glen Ramplin after rescuing crewmen from the Pasha Bulker. Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Simone De Peak

Picture: Simone De Peak

Picture: Simone De Peak

Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Brock Perks

Picture: Brock Perks

Picture: Dean Osland

Picture: David Wicks

Police take Pasha Bulker crew members away from the surf club on June 8, 2007. Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: David Wicks

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: David Wicks

Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Darren Pateman

TweetFacebookJadie Beeston, ayoung mother and wife of Nigel, adds: 鈥淚 think people remember that weekend was just an exciting storm, you hear people remembering the Pasha Bulker, the cars and homes being flooded.

鈥淏ut they are all replaceable.

鈥淚t should also be a time where we honour those who we lost.

鈥淚t is difficult for everyone. His parents. His sisters. You don鈥檛 get over it, you just learn to live with it.

鈥淚t is still as bad now as it was then. For everyone.鈥欌€?/p>And Wayne Bull鈥檚 sister, Michelle Schmitzer, is even more passionate about the need to remember those lost.

鈥淚 don鈥檛 like the Pasha Bulker at all. I hate it,鈥欌€?she says.

鈥淎 ship鈥檚 captain is told to lift anchor and take a boat out to safety. He doesn鈥檛. My brother is missing and he is on page three.鈥欌€?/p> WASHED AWAY: Linda and Bob Jones were killed after their four-wheel-drive was washed off a bridge near Clarence Town. Picture: Peter Stoop.

The painful memories are the same. The ache of lossnever completely dissipates. And the levels come in waves.

Libby Herington remembers that her sister Linda didn鈥檛 always go with her husband to his doctor鈥檚 appointments.

No one will ever know why she decided on June 8, 2007.

But she did. The love of her life, whom she met while they both worked at Stockton Hospital, also had a love of the rural life. And the pair settled in beautifulClarence Town.

鈥淗e was very clever with his hands, Bob, and he loved a drink,鈥欌€?Ms Herington says.

鈥淟inda was quieter but had such a beautiful heart, she loved her family鈥?

The pair had been to the doctors and were heading home as the rain continued to bucket down.

It was11.20am when they reached a small bridge on Clarence Town Road which spansWallaroo Creek, between Glen Oak and their home town.

But the creek, borne in Columbey National Park before it gathers momentum into Stony Creek and then the mighty Williams River,was already swollen from the endless rain.

Bob stoppedthe couple鈥檚 four-wheel drive before the bridge and watchedon as atruck successfully navigatedthrough the rising floodwaters.

Fatefully, hedecidedto take it on鈥?nbsp;they werejust a few kilometres from the safety and dryness of their own home.

Witnesses watched on as the four-wheel drive hits the bridge before the wall of water took control鈥?nbsp;andall before it.

A Westpac rescue helicopter was called from the Pasha Bulker rescue to help in the frantic search.

But the Jonesesnever stood a chance and would later be found just metres from the bridge.Still in their seatbelts. And, importantly for their families, still together.

鈥淲e couldn鈥檛 believe it,鈥欌€?Ms Herington says.

鈥淢um was devastated. I don鈥檛 think she ever got over it. I don鈥檛 think any of us did.鈥?/p> REMEMBERED: Wayne Bull was killed after being washed down Styx Creek. He was a Mayfield United Soccer Club life member, with players forming a guard of honour at his funeral.

A few hours later, Wayne Bull hadfinished his shift at Steve Koulis Smash Repairs on Griffiths Road at Lambton.

But his car hadbeen playing up and the 46-year-old was worried he wouldn鈥檛 get home. Heaskeda workmate to follow him home to Adamstown in the business鈥?loan car.

Wayne, a father of two, gothome safely and decidedto jumpinto the Ford Festiva with his workmate to get him back to the shop. It was a decision which costs him his life.

Stormwater drains across the city had been overflowing for hours now. The sheeramount of water hadtaken its toll. And the one that ranalong the old water course known asStyx Creek was one of them.

As the Festiva travelledover the rail overpass alongGriffiths Road, the pair wereunaware of what was just a few metres ahead of them.

It was 6pm and dark.The Festiva iscaught in the floodwaters, and as Mr Bull attemptedto flee, he waswashed away.

His mate never sawhim and yelledfor help.

Just like the Joneses, the father of twonever stood a chance. His body was recovered several kilometres away towards Throsby Creek.

鈥淭he ferocity of the water coming down that drain was extraordinary and as Wayne opened the door he just got dragged out,鈥欌€?sister Michelle Schmitzer says.

鈥淲e miss him terribly.He was just a good egg. I am not just saying that because he wasmy brother. He was a great bloke and we want people to remember him for his smile, not what happened to him.鈥欌€?/p> HEADING HOME: Nigel Beeston, pictured with wife Jadie and daughter Skyla, was nearly home when a tree fell on his ute.

That Friday night, Nigel Beeston got home to Heddon Greta safely after spendinghours travelling along battered roads.

He was a hard worker, the family鈥檚breadwinner, and he didn鈥檛 shirk an overtime shift the following day, despite the weather.

He finishedthat shift about 4.30pm. It was Saturday afternoon and, againhe was struggling to find his way through the maze of flooded roads. He ranghis wife again at 6pm.

鈥淗e said it was slow going but he was going through Freemans Waterhole and he was only 10 minutes away,鈥欌€?Jadie Beeston says.

鈥淏ut he never made it home.鈥欌€?/p>As he travelledalong Leggetts Drive near Brunkerville, a roadside tree succumbedto days of its roots being undermined by rainwater. It felland crushedNigel鈥檚 utility cab.

Jadie, who was waiting for Nigel to get home to her and their five-year-old Skyla,receiveda call from hisgrandmother.

鈥淗is nan rang and asked who was driving the ute and I said it was Nigel. When she couldn鈥檛 speak I knew something was terribly wrong,鈥欌€?Jadie says.

鈥淚 kept ringing his phone constantly trying to contact him. But I obviously couldn鈥檛. I said it couldn鈥檛 be right, I had just spoken to him. But it was.鈥欌€?/p>If they were to allow fate to enter their nightmares, the familiesofthose lost during that storm weekend could be lost in grief.

The Joneses could have waited. Wayne Bull could have stayed home. and Nigel Beeston was a split second from safety.

鈥淚t is a moment that constantly goes through my head,鈥欌€?Jadie Beeston says.

鈥淚f he was driving one kilometre faster or two kilometres slower. It was the worst luck and timing possible. There are so many things he could have done and he would still be with us. Stopping and tying his shoelace. Anything.鈥欌€?/p>

Comments are closed.