Armidale coronial inquest told three-year-old Bangladeshi girl drowned after chasing duck into creek in Curtis Park, Armidale

Terrible tragedy: Tributes left at the creek in Curtis Park, Armidale, where a three-year-old girl drowned on September 11, 2016. Photo: Matt Bedford
Terrible tragedy: Tributes left at the creek in Curtis Park, Armidale, where a three-year-old girl drowned on September 11, 2016. Photo: Matt Bedford

See also:Push for warning signs in park after drowning

AN INQUEST has heard how two strangers desperately tried to revive a young girl who was pulled from a creek in a CBD park.

Coroner Michael Holmes is examining the death of the three-year-old Bangladeshi girl who died after falling into the creek in Curtis Park, or sometimes referred to as the Creeklands in Armidale, in September, last year.

The child’s name has been suppressed by the court but the inquest heard she was a “healthy, intelligent child who was never sick”.

She did not know how to swim and was not familiar with water but “was known to like ducks and would regularly chase ducks when taken to the park by her parents”.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Sergeant Ferguson, told the Armidale inquest a large number of the Bangladeshi community had gathered in the park on September 11, last year, including the young girl with her father.

She said the father was watching his daughter while talking to another man when he lost sight of the young girl after a few minutes.

Tragedy: Emergency services at the scene of the drowning on September 11, 2016. Photo: Matt Bedford

Tragedy: Emergency services at the scene of the drowning on September 11, 2016. Photo: Matt Bedford

He went looking for her and "saw his daughter floating face down in the creek”. He then pulled the young girl out and tried to revive her before a man and a woman, who had been in the park, commenced CPR.

The inquest was told none of the people in the park saw the child go into the creek but one witness saw a young child chasing a brown duck.

The triple zero call came through shortly after 2pm, and paramedics arrived after police. The girl was “pronounced life extinct at 4.17pm”, after being rushed to Armidale hospital.

Mr Holmes said the inquest was “aiming to prevent future deaths rather than allocating blame”.

He said because of the community concern surrounding the drowning – which occurred on a sunny, spring day in the middle of Armidale – “making recommendations in this matter will be of benefit to the community". 

“This has been a terribly sad accident and what we are trying to do is to look to the future to prevent [another death],” he said.

These are matters that touch many, many people in the community. The court was concerned about community upset in relation to the matter.

Coroner Michael Holmes

“These are matters that touch many, many people in the community. The court was concerned about community upset in relation to the matter."

Officer-in-charge Detective Senior Constable Travis Murdock told the inquest there were several people in the park, and he arrived on scene within a minute of the call, before paramedics.

We saw two people trying to revive a young girl on the edge of Dumaresq Creek.

Detective Senior Constable Travis Murdock

“We saw two people trying to revive a young girl on the edge of Dumaresq Creek,” he said, before going to assist the two.

“The young girl was lying on her back, she was unresponsive.” 

Terrible tragedy: Tributes left at the creek in Curtis Park, Armidale, where a three-year-old girl drowned on September 11, 2016. Photo: Matt Bedford

Terrible tragedy: Tributes left at the creek in Curtis Park, Armidale, where a three-year-old girl drowned on September 11, 2016. Photo: Matt Bedford

Detective Murdock said, in parts, there was a straight drop into the creek, and “there was still quite a bit of water at the time”.

​Mr Holmes praised the officer “and the work you’ve put into it” after the inquest was shown a video walkthrough of Curtis Park, as well as a specialist police view of the park from a three-year-old’s perspective, created by forensic police.

The inquest has been adjourned.