Airlie Beach Lagoon remained closed yesterday after two drownings there on Sunday.
Airlie Beach Lagoon remained closed yesterday after two drownings there on Sunday. Georgia Simpson

Airlie drowning: two underwater for six minutes

A FATHER and his five-year-old son, who drowned at Airlie Beach Lagoon on Sunday were submerged for about six minutes before anyone noticed, according to Whitsunday Police.

Inspector Steve O'Connell said CCTV footage showed the father was piggybacking his son, slowly walking in the water in the shallows, before entering deeper water.

"They have gradually entered into slightly deeper water, and it appears from there the man has started to bob up and down, because the water was probably over his head, he has then submerged, and his son has gone with him and then they don't emerge," he said.

It was a very busy afternoon at the lagoon, with a lot of activity and CCTV footage confirms it was about six minutes before trouble was detected and the alarm was raised, Insp O'Connell said.

"Everyone including the lifeguards responded as best they could and did the very best they could however the initial retrieval was for the father, and it was several more minutes until it was identified that the boy was still submerged on the bottom," he said.

"Resuscitation continued at the scene, and then in the ambulance and then at the (Proserpine) hospital until it was established they couldn't be bought back.

"Mum has gone to go and get a drink and when she returned, she was confronted with the horrible situation unfolding.

"She was taken to hospital to be with her husband and son, and she was being supported by social workers from the hospital, and yesterday the Chinese Embassy was able to provide her with a support person who is assisting her through what needs to happen from here on in."

"Our inquiries to date show that neither the father or son could swim, and it's a tragic case of, he's gone from being able to touch the bottom to moving into slightly deeper water, and he has gone beyond his depth."

Insp O'Connell said the Whitsunday Police did not normally comment or provide information regarding these sorts of matters, but understood the community was shaken, and required some clarity around the situation.

"We urge anyone who is feeling distraught or struggling to cope with the situation to reach out, there are plenty of places in our community where you can seek support," he said.