Witness tells of ‘terrible’ conditions as teens drowned in Swan River while fleeing police15th March 2021
Police officers’ desperate attempts to save two boys who drowned in the Swan River while fleeing authorities have been revealed during a coronial inquest into the teenagers’ deaths.
Master Drage, 16, and Master Simpson, 17 – whose first names WAtoday has not published at the request of their families – drowned about 4pm on September 10, 2018, while attempting to cross a 150-metre stretch of river between Maylands and Rivervale fully clothed, in rough conditions.
Two police officers on patrol had been pursuing the boys on foot along the riverbed after receiving reports of a group of teenagers jumping fences in the area.
Four boys entered the river, with one of the police officers able to convince one to turn around after he waded into the water up to his chest in the cold conditions. The other three began making their way to the other side.
By coincidence, two tactical response group officers were in the area at the time and noticed the commotion on the riverbank.
Counsel assisting the coroner Sarah Tyler said three of the boys made it halfway across the river before they began to struggle in the strong current.
The TRG officers, referred to as Operator 2 and Operator 65, entered the water clothed after noticing the boys in distress.
They managed to save one boy, but lost sight of Master Drage and Master Simpson under the water.
Rivervale resident Samuel Cooper, who watched the incident unfold from his balcony after hearing the commotion, said he could hear officers shouting, “Hang on, mate” and, “I’m with you, I’m with you”.