Police Beat

Too many people getting lost

A REPORT of a missing child in a runaway kayak at Cobbler Pool on the second morning of last month’s Avon Descent river race prompted a massive two-hour police search and delayed the scheduled start for power boat competitors.

A Perth police helicopter, Toodyay officers and others from Northam, Midland and Wheatbelt Traffic scoured the rugged river valley as other officers quizzed officials, competitors and spectators at the Cobbler Pool overnight campsite.

Race organisers stopped the noon start for powerboats while police searched the fast-flowing river and flooded banks downstream.

Dozens of kayak competitors had set off earlier at dawn after reaching Cobbler Pool from Northam the previous day.

Several soon got into difficulty and found themselves struggling in foaming rapids downstream after their kayaks capsized in the dense early morning mist.

Searching police feared a child may have been swept into the same area.

The intensive search continued for about two hours before the missing child report was found to be incorrect and the river race was allowed to resume.

No further action was taken.

Bracelet trace

TOODYAY police have joined an Australia-wide campaign to help support local residents with dementia or cognitive impairment.

The joint effort with the Australia Medic Alert Foundation is designed to help local police officers identify lost or missing people and return them safely home.

Participants wear an easily recognisable Safe and Found bracelet which is engraved on the rear with information linked to the wearer’s name, address, photograph and carer contact information.

The campaign may be particularly relevant in communities such as Toodyay where about a quarter of the local population in 2016 was age 65 or older.

Local involvement includes campaign information on computer home screens at Toodyay Police Station

The bracelets are linked to a detailed profile that outlines the wearer’s personal history and characteristics.

The information is kept securely with a recent photograph on a Safe and Found database for police to access immediately if a person goes missing.

Information about how to join can be found at safeandfound.org.au or by calling 1800 882 222.

Country caution

TOODYAY police are urging local people and visitors to take extra care when venturing out into local wilderness areas, particularly in wet and boggy conditions.

This includes sightseers on spring wildflower visits and a warning that travelling on local country roads is not the same as driving on metropolitan highways.

Most motorists are not taught to drive on country roads – they learn only to pass a driving test.

Inexperienced drivers can easily get into difficulty, over-correct their steering, lose control and hit an oncoming vehicle or roadside tree – all in a split second.

Extra care is needed at all times, particularly on narrow or gravel roads.

People who get lost without adequate preparation is also a big problem.

Trekkers lost

LOCAL officers were called out last month when two young women became lost in the Avon Valley National Park.

The pair were camping out in the park on a Monday and decided to go trekking.

They became lost during the afternoon and realised they needed help as dusk approached.

Both were carrying phones but one had a dead battery and the other had barely any charge left and no mobile reception.

Neither was equipped for an overnight stay in the open.

The women climbed down a steep slope and found their way to a railway access track behind locked gates near Emu Falls

There they were able to obtain mobile phone reception to call for emergency help with the small amount of charge left on their one remaining phone.

A local police alert was issued at 7pm.

The women were instructed not to move until railway maintenance workers arrived to collect them.

Toodyay police travelled to Morangup to collect the pair and return them to their campsite.
The issue for us is a lack of planning and equipment, and that people often leave it until near dark to call for help.

Had the two lost women not been able to obtain mobile reception near Emu Falls, we would not have known they were missing or started a search until dawn.

They would have spent a cold night out in the open without food or shelter.

Forest folly

IN ANOTHER incident, four young people spent a chilly night in Julimar State Forest without food or shelter after a late-night jaunt ended in disaster.

The occupants – two each from Northam and Toodyay – had set off into the darkened forest in a 4WD vehicle at about 8pm on a Saturday last month.

The driver lost control of the vehicle on a waterlogged forest track and it flipped onto its side into a deep pool.

None of the occupants was injured.
They decided to abandon the partly-submerged vehicle and start walking.
The four walked all through the night without adequate boots, food, water or warm clothing and reached Dewars Pool Road cold and hungry at about 9am, where a passing motorist picked them up.

It is not known if the owner later recovered the vehicle.

Bobcat pinch

A PINJARRA man caught in possession of a stolen bobcat after a trailer carrying it broke down with a flat tyre in Morangup was convicted last month and fined $2500.

Payment was suspended and replaced by a six-month good behaviour bond but the man (57) was also fined $300 for towing an unlicenced trailer.

An alleged accomplice failed to appear in court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.[/read]