Police arrive to search the creek following the fatal boating accident last year.
Police arrive to search the creek following the fatal boating accident last year.

Case closes on Jyah's death

IT WAS a perfect day.

Idyllic weather and the smooth waters of Tinana Creek provided the perfect opportunity for a large group of family and friends to catch some wakeboarding action on film during their “Novemboard” camping weekend.

But in a split second, November 30, 2008, turned into the day they all wish had never happened.

Eight-year-old Jyah Lamb watched his dad and older brother wakeboarding, spinning around in the air doing tricks behind a speedboat.

The Noosaville boy paddled out towards the middle of the creek so he could catch the wake back into shore.

But he never made it back.

He was fatally struck by a second boat driven by Jeffrey David Ussher.

Jyah’s body was found at the bottom of Tinana Creek, 51 metres from the boat ramp the parties had set out from.

Ussher, 25, was charged with dangerous operation of a vessel causing death but defence solicitor Bill Potts yesterday argued the crash was an accident that Ussher could not have avoided.

In the Maryborough Magistrates Court, witnesses told how the sun was reflecting brightly off the water.

With no sunglasses on and a bottom-heavy speedboat, Ussher did not see Jyah until it was too late.

Teenager Katie Foley saw the crash after spending the morning on the creek with Jyah and teenager Luke Scott.

“Jyah was telling me how he rides the surfboard from the wake into the shore,” she said.

“I asked him if I could have a go.

“He said ‘hold on, I’ll just have a go,’ and that’s when he paddled out and got hit.

“He paddled out, sitting on the board in about the middle of the creek.

“About five seconds before the boats came he got down (into the water) and put his arm on the board.

“He had his arm over the surfboard and his head and neck were out of the water.

“He turned and saw the boat and kind of froze up, like he didn’t know what to do. Then the boat hit him.

“The surfboard came up in two pieces.”

More than a dozen witnesses gave evidence during the two-day committal hearing, including the drivers of both boats, passengers and people who saw the events unfold from the shore.

Two films taken by the boat passengers were viewed during the hearing.

One of the film-makers could be heard saying it was “Novemboard weather – freaking unreal”.

Moments later a voice is heard saying “woah, woah, woah,” as the speaker realised a child had been struck.

The idyllic scene had turned into a living nightmare.

Magistrate John Smith sat in court after 7pm yesterday to hear Mr Potts’ submission that there was not enough evidence to commit Ussher to trial. The summing up continued last night.

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