Race officials back their actions

February 15, 2017

Club president John Lomas gave his condolences to the family of the deceased and said in terms of any other statements the committee had protocols to follow.

FOLLOWING Sunday’s tragic chain of S80 accidents Moama Water Sports Club has defended its communications and remained adamant in following its protocols.

The committee remained tight-lipped following the death of a driver and two other separate incidents during Sunday’s race until a media conference Monday morning.

Before then the media, including the Riverine Herald and almost all metropolitan media, was already covering the story, relaying information received from NSW Police and Ambulance Victoria regarding the accidents.

But the committee was determined to not release any public statements until it had all the information it believed it needed and didn’t feel the need to release information any sooner.

‘‘People should wait until they’re presented with all the necessary facts and information and then they can be critical,’’ club president John Lomas said.

‘‘A lot of the information we don’t know ourselves and most of it has been speculation on social media.’’

The club was in the process of offering counselling to those involved in the unfortunate events and thanking paramedics and spectators for their assistance.

Lomas gave his condolences to the family of the deceased and said in terms of any other statements the committee had protocols to follow.

‘‘We’re working in conjunction with Roads and Maritime Services and Ski Racing Australia (SRA), as the controlling body who sanction the event and its rules, in regards to the information we give out,’’ he said.

‘‘All the phone calls I’ve had have been very positive and the events have made no difference to the future planning of the Southern 80.

‘‘We’ll continue to implement what changes have to be made to make that part of the race a lot safer.’’

Lomas said until a report from NSW Police has been received the committee would not make any decisions on what safety issues need to be addressed.

The exact cause of the fatal accident would need to be identified before anything more could be done, but Lomas said the committee would work with SRA to eliminate an incident happening again.

‘‘We don’t want to see teams going out there and getting hurt,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s our aim to try and eliminate every accident from occurring and ensure tourists, who bring a lot of money to the town, continue to come and enjoy themselves.’’

Lomas said the response time to the incidents from all parties involved was excellent and ambulance services and those who assisted were to be congratulated for their efforts.

Concerns regarding the Murray river levels being dramatically lower this year were deemed to be irrelevant in the accidents.

‘‘River levels make absolutely no difference to the race,’’ Lomas said.

‘‘Boats run down the centre of the river and race regulations state drivers must drive to conditions.

‘‘We had a lot of comments that the river was marked brilliantly this year and these were from competitors out there racing.’’

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