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Coronial inquest will be opened into dam tragedy

TRAGEDY: Nelani Koefer drowned at in the Mackenzie River just before her 5th birthday.
TRAGEDY: Nelani Koefer drowned at in the Mackenzie River just before her 5th birthday.

THE anguish of losing a child is something no parent should have to endure.

And on top of watching her daughter drown before her eyes, Amy Koefer has been left with many unanswered questions over how this tragedy even occurred.

"There's not a day that goes by that there's not something that reminds me of that day and what happened," she said.

On November 23, 2008, Amy's four-year-old daughter Nelani Koefer was swept to her death after a fabridam failure at a Blackwater dam.

Almost seven years later a Coronial Inquest will be opened to investigate the incident.

"I really want to get to the bottom of it; I want answers," Amy said.

She hoped whatever the inquest uncovered would help her find closure over her daughter's death.

SURGE: Water poured through this gap at the Bedford Weir after an inflatable barrier burst.
SURGE: Water poured through this gap at the Bedford Weir after an inflatable barrier burst.

"I still have to deal with that. I haven't come to terms with the fact that I'll never see her again... and I don't want to deal with that until after the inquest," Amy said.

It was a Sunday afternoon and Amy had been teaching her daughter to skip stones at Mackenzie River around a bend from Bedford Weir, which is located about 25km north of Blackwater.

A section of the weir's inflatable storage bladder collapsed, spilling thousands of megalitres of water and causing a powerful surge down the river.

Nelani was swept from her mother's arms as Amy desperately clung to a tree.

Her body was found the next day.

Amy, who now lives in Gladstone, said her father was there when Nelani was found and rode with her in the ambulance.

"Dad was the one that brought her home to me," she said.

BEFORE: Bedford Weir before a section of the inflatable storage barrier collapsed.
BEFORE: Bedford Weir before a section of the inflatable storage barrier collapsed.

Amy's parents, Michael and Debbie Koefer, will attend the inquest with Amy. They were emotionally prepared to again relive their heartbreak at the inquest.

"It can't be anything worse then what I've already been though," Amy said.

"I just keep telling myself that."

Inquest:

THE Coronial Inquest into Nelani Koefer's death will investigate 10 issues.

These include details surrounding fabridam such as installation, maintenance, any previous failures or leaks and why it failed on November 23, 2008.

OLD SOUL: Amy Koefer said her daughter Nelani was wise beyond her years and described her as bubbly and cheeky.
OLD SOUL: Amy Koefer said her daughter Nelani was wise beyond her years and described her as bubbly and cheeky. Contributed

It will also cover if there was appropriate warning signs about potential water inundation and why the prosecution of Sun Water Ltd took four years and 11 months.

A pre-inquest conference is set for October 12 this year in Mackay.

Timeline:

November 2008: Nelani Koefer drowned

November 2009: Charges laid against Sun Water Ltd and Trelleborg Engineered Systems Australia Pty Ltd

November 2013: Companies fined $80,000 and no conviction recorded

October 2015: Pre-inquest conference to be held

Topics:  coronial inquest mackay


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