Clamour to fix exposed deathtrap drains after boy's death
A FAMILY has been left shattered and a community is demanding answers following the death of a young boy who was swept into an exposed stormwater drain and sucked into an underground sewer network in the Illawarra, as heavy rains lashed the state.
The body of 11-year-old Ryan Teasdale was found almost a kilometre along the underground pipe system where the drain resurfaces behind the Unanderra swimming pool, just after 11am yesterday.
The grisly discovery came 18 hours after his older brother noticed him missing from Riley Park on Thursday, where the two had spent the afternoon "grass surfing" after a 200ml drenching of rain.
The Lindsay Park Public School student is the second known child to die after being swept into the drainage system, following the tragic death of another young boy who was propelled into a nearby entry point and was found in the harbour at Port Kembla.
Local parents and the state Opposition are demanding the council take action to prevent the suburban "death trap" - and others across NSW - from claiming another life.
They want grilles or bars to be installed on the thousands of large exposed drains in parks and reserves to keep their children safe.
Father-of-two Clint Magro told The Saturday Telegraph it was sad it took "someone to die for council to do something".
"I'm looking at the drain now and even I could fit through it," he said.
Parent Jessica Raso, 29, said: "The council should put some measures like bars, a guard or a grate over the drain to protect kids.
"After what has happened, the council would be silly not to do so. I have a six-year-old son and I wouldn't bring him here now. I thought it was great that the kids were outside having fun."
Hundreds of people spent the night searching for the young boy after he was reported missing at 6.30pm on Thursday, including dozens of State Emergency Service workers and experts from Wollongong Council who assisted with their knowledge of the drain network.
Opposition emergency services spokesman Guy Zangari said councils needed a permanent solution - such as using grilles and removing built-up rubbish - "because we've lost a child here".
"You've got to wonder how this child got into this situation," he said. "We know if you tell a child 100 times not to do something, they'll do it.
"Councils and the state government need to come together on this."
But independent Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said "personal responsibility" should be considered and claimed the tragedy "highlights how people are not taking heed of those warnings not to enter flood waters".
"We're between a rock and a hard place on this one," Mr Bradbery said. "Yes there's a drain there but when you put grilles and things around such pipes it creates a debris trap."
"It's about how far we have to go before personal responsibility kicks in. But I am mindful we have lost someone."
Police said yesterday the heavy rainfall and subsequent torrents of water rushing through the drains overnight would have been a factor in Ryan's death.
The rain prompted police to plead with drivers to slow down after three people died in the Hunter in 24 hours.
Tragedy struck when 19-year-old Tim Cox's Holden Commodore hit a power pole on Old Maitland Rd, west of Maitland, killing him about 9pm on Wednesday night.
A 63-year-old man died the following morning when his sedan collided with another car on Mitchell Line Rd in Singleton. His passenger has serious spinal injuries.
And a motorcyclist in his 40s died on Thursday afternoon when he slammed into a BMW which was turning into a driveway in Woodville.