Home Australia Tragic details emerge about emotional 14-year-old boy who drowned while boating on Christmas Eve

Tragic details emerge about emotional 14-year-old boy who drowned while boating on Christmas Eve

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Hayden (pictured left) fell out of the tube, did a few strokes and then went into the water on Christmas Eve.

A 14-year-old boy was not wearing a life jacket when he drowned in a water tube incident on Christmas Eve, a court heard.

Shaun Joseph Looby, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of placing a general obligation on persons involved in the operation of a vessel to operate it safely causing death at Maryborough Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Sonia Edwards said Hayden Nance, her stepfather Looby and mother Marissa Looby had taken their boat on the Mary River at Owanyilla in southeast Queensland.

Looby was licensed at the time and the boat was registered with all necessary safety equipment on board, including life jackets.

The court heard it was Hayden’s first time tubing.

Hayden (pictured left) fell out of the tube, did a few strokes and then went into the water on Christmas Eve.

Shaun Joseph Looby (pictured) pleaded guilty to one count of placing a general duty on persons involved in the operation of the ship to operate it safely and cause death.

Shaun Joseph Looby (pictured) pleaded guilty to one count of placing a general duty on persons involved in the operation of the ship to operate it safely and cause death.

Ms Edwards said Ms Looby bought the ski tube which was found in good condition when later examined by police, the Cairns Mail reported.

Looby gave Hayden a safety briefing, including how to enter the subway, where to hang and hand signals.

Hayden did not want to wear a life jacket, saying she was over 12, and Looby and Mrs. Looby objected, but decided not to have “a big argument” about it.

He began tubing for the second time that day at around 10am, while the boat was traveling at about 25km/h, the court heard.

In footage provided to police, Looby appeared to be driving “very calmly” while towing the tube and no major turns or donuts were made.

It is understood that Hayden fell off the tube. He took a few strokes and then dove into the water.

Ms Looby quickly told her partner, who turned around and jumped into the water to look for Hayden after he failed to surface, but was unable to find him due to poor visibility in the muddy water.

His hysterical mother intervened to help with the search before climbing back on board and calling triple-0.

He also lit a flare to try to get someone else’s attention.

Divers were called, who later found Hayden’s body, and an autopsy confirmed the cause of death as drowning.

Ms Edwards said legislation states skiers must wear a life jacket, and wearing one would have allowed Hayden to stay upright and position himself in the water.

“It’s still not sure what would have happened then, but it wouldn’t have sunk in the river, where visibility was low and people couldn’t locate it at the time,” he said.

“It’s a situation where all parties have suffered, the family members, Mr. Looby, and any punishment the court may impose on Mr. Looby is not going to change the situation or how he would feel about it.”

Mrs Looby (pictured right) was in court supporting her husband, who had co-operated fully with police following the tragedy.

Mrs Looby (pictured right) was in court supporting her husband, who had co-operated fully with police following the tragedy.

Mrs Looby was in court supporting her husband, who had co-operated fully with police following the tragedy.

Defense lawyer Andrew Bale said the incident had a “devastating” effect on the family and they sold the boat after detectives seized it and released it.

“The last thing they want, of course, is for the boat to be sitting in the driveway reminding everyone of what happened,” he said.

Magistrate John Milburn accepted the family had suffered and said it was a tragic incident but he needed to consider general deterrence in his sentencing.

Looby was fined $1,500 and no conviction was recorded.

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