Enter your email to read this article
Read news on any topic, in one place, from publishers like The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more.

Five-year-old's creek death ignites anger over unsafe McGrane Way crossing in Central West NSW

The death of a five-year-old boy in floodwaters in the New South Wales Central West has shattered locals who have spent years demanding a fix to a notorious creek crossing. 

The boy died when a family of five tried to cross a flooded causeway in the dark on Friday, September 23, and their ute was swept into rain-swollen Graddle Creek, west of Dubbo.

His parents and two young children escaped but the five-year-old was trapped and died. 

The causeway is on the McGrane Way, between Tullamore and Narromine, which was closed at the time after up to 150mm of rain in the district. 

The crossing is known to locals as a place where the creek rises quickly and with dangerous force. The MR354 community committee, formed in 1998, has spent decades lobbying to have the causeway replaced with a bridge. 

Authorities have long warned motorists not to drive into floodwaters and committee president and local farmer Gary Langley said the crossing was under about 1.5 metres of water when the boy died.

"I've been fairly upset that we lost a child," Mr Langley said. 

"For years we've been losing people off the causeway and we have been lobbying to try to get a bridge over it.

"Now we have lost this poor child, it has got to be made a major priority and the sooner we get it done the better." 

Local Rural Fire Service volunteer and farmer Fiona Aveyard was one of the first at the scene of the Graddle Creek tragedy.

She said it was one of three incidents in a week involving cars swept off the causeway and drivers commonly ignored road-closed signs or were caught off guard approaching the crossing. 

"I just don't know how you change that behaviour or make people more aware of the risk," she said. 

"We have known for a long time that it was a matter of time before there was a tragedy." 

Ms Aveyard, who is also on the committee urging Parkes Shire to build a bridge over the waterway, said s-bends on either side of the causeway also posed rollover problems for trucks.  

In 2019, the group counted 12 truck rollovers on those bends. 

Between 2017 and 2021 it recorded 10 crashes that left four people with serious injuries. 

But locals believe official records do not reflect the true number of incidents, given locals are often first responders and help people out of trouble. 

Funding a priority, says Parkes mayor

Parkes Shire Council Mayor Ken Keith said the shire had made a bridge and new approaches a priority project, allocating $150,000 for designs. 

The works are expected to cost up to $5 million, which Cr Keith said was an impossible commitment for a council that managed 2,500km of roads.

He said the council would apply for a state government grant to cover the costs. 

NSW Minister for Regional Roads and Transport, Sam Farraway, said he had been working with the community over their concerns about the McGrane Way for years. 

He said the boy's death was a devastating reminder of the danger of driving through floodwaters. 

The child's death is under investigation by NSW Police.

Related Stories
Ryanair workers issue demand after flight attendant killed in crash
Cinzia Ceravolo was described as an "angel" in heartbreaking tributes
From analysis to the latest developments in health, read the most diverse news in one place.
Brisbane CBD changes over next decade to change the face of the city
A "collision of challenges and opportunities" is facing Queensland's capital as new projects and vision for the city's heart begin to roll out with gusto.
Three new entrances and a new bridge to Temple Meads station planned
It's likely a new development company will be set up to get the job done
Joe Biden declares South Carolina state of emergency as Hurricane Ian causes catastrophic damage in Florida
President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency for South Carolina as devastating Hurricane Ian regains strength after battering Florida.
Florida begins to assess devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian
FORT MYERS, Fla. — On the vacation island resorts of Sanibel and Captiva, rescuers flew in on helicopters because the roads from the mainland of Southwest Florida had collapsed into San Carlos Bay. To the south, Fort Myers Beach, once a lively town center of fish restaurants and bars, was…
One place to find news on any topic, from hundreds of sites.
Hunter councils welcome $15 million flood recovery funding but note room for 'improved opportunity'
Councils impacted by February and March flooding are eligible.