A 15-year-old girl has been praised for her “heroic” composure after helping authorities locate her family after a landslide in the NSW Blue Mountains on Monday.
- A father and son died in the incident
- Authorities recovered their bodies on Tuesday morning
- The British consulate is assisting
Police confirmed a family of five, who were tourists from the UK, were bushwalking at Wentworth Falls when four of them were crushed by falling rocks.
The bodies of a 49-year-old man and a nine-year-old boy, who died at the scene at Wentworth Pass, were recovered on Tuesday morning.
A police helicopter winched the bodies up from the remote track.
A woman, 50, and 14-year-old boy remain in hospital after undergoing surgery for critical injuries.
The woman is being treated at Westmead Hospital, and the boy was taken to the nearby children’s hospital.
Both had suffered significant head and abdominal injuries, police said on Monday.
Police said a fifth member of the family, a 15-year-old girl, was lucky to be alive.
NSW Ambulance Acting Chief Superintendent Stewart Clarke said the girl called triple-0 and helped authorities locate her family despite not knowing where they were.
“The challenges she must have faced after witnessing something completely devastating and heartbreaking to then have the composure to call triple-0, not being familiar with her surroundings, to stay on the phone, combine that with the great work of our call takers we found and we certainly found the location of the incident, “he said.
“How she maintained her composure during such a terrible time is nothing short of heroic.
“It was heartbreaking to know as she was leaving the bush her world had literally changed within the scope of an hour.”
The walking track where the landslide took place was inspected for safety just days before the tragedy.
A NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman said a “routine track assessment” was recently undertaken.
“The walking track where this incident occurred was inspected in the days before the rockslide as part of a routine track assessment program,” the spokesman said.
“Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict and eliminate all natural risks, such as rockslides, which can occasionally occur around the state.”
The spokesman said the track infrastructure was maintained to the “greatest extent practicable”.
Acting Superintendent John Nelson told Nine Radio on Tuesday morning that dangerous conditions at the scene on Monday made evacuating the injured parties the priority for emergency services.
He said that, coupled with the remote location of the site, a 70-minute walk down Wentworth Pass, had meant the two bodies had to be left on the path.
Acting Chief Superintendent Clarke said the rescue team had to undertake a “dynamic risk assessment”.
“What the team were facing on their arrival was a significantly high-risk and unsafe environment,” he said.
“Whilst they knew that a landslide had occurred there was speculation that there was some further noises heard in terms of land moving and shifting.
“They did have to undertake quite a dynamic risk assessment before we inserted our specialists in.”
Acting Superintendent Nelson said authorities were focused on providing support to the 15-year-old girl.
The British consulate was assisting authorities to this end, he said.
Blue Mountains City Council Mayor Mark Greenhill expressed his condolences online on behalf of the community.
“Whether resident here or not, those who come within our beautiful Blue Mountains are taken to our hearts,” he wrote.
“Moments like this cause pain and grief to our entire Blue Mountains family.”
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