John Tyson (left) and Blake Rice at the funeral of Donna and Jordan Rice in January, 2011.
John Tyson (left) and Blake Rice at the funeral of Donna and Jordan Rice in January, 2011. Bev Lacey

Flood victim snubbed for memorial

A MAJOR row has erupted after a senior Toowoomba Regional Council bureaucrat associated with Mayor Peter Taylor's office told flood victim John Tyson he was not welcome at the official flood anniversary commemoration to be held next week.

The Queensland Police Service was so incensed at the insensitive snub by the council, Inspector David Isherwood of Toowoomba Police personally called Mr Tyson on Thursday night to voice his disapproval.

"He was not formally invited by the council, however the Queensland Police Service thought it was appropriate that he attend as he lost his wife and son," Insp Isherwood said yesterday.

Mr Tyson's wife Donna and son Jordan Rice were the only two Toowoomba residents killed on the afternoon of January 10, 2011, after becoming trapped in floodwater at the corner of James and Kitchener Sts.

Youngest son Blake survived after being rescued.

On Monday evening Premier Anna Bligh will be on hand to unveil the Toowoomba flood memorial situated at the corner of Margaret and Victoria Sts, a permanent reminder of the city's darkest hour.

"He certainly should have been afforded some involvement, and an invitation for that matter, because of the circumstances," Insp Isherwood said.

Talking to The Chronicle yesterday, Mr Tyson said the insensitive bureaucrat left him under no illusion that he was not welcome.

"The exact words said to me by the bureaucrat from the mayor's office were: 'The floods are over and no-one is interested in the floods any more. Toowoomba owes you absolutely nothing'," Mr Tyson said.

"I am under no illusion and was told in no uncertain terms that I would be not welcome at the anniversary proceedings on Monday night," he said.

After all that has happened during the past year, a heartbroken Mr Tyson said the snub was the biggest "back-hander" he had ever received.

"I am absolutely gutted. I never asked for my wife and son to be killed," Mr Tyson said.

"Imagine if you lost people you loved and then you are not even invited to the official memorial unveiling.

"After everything that has happened over the past year, it is the biggest kick in the guts by far," he said.

Even if an invitation is extended in the coming days, Mr Tyson said he would not feel comfortable attending the event knowing he was not really welcome.

"Even if they (TRC) invite me now I will not be attending. It was made perfectly clear that I was not welcome," Mr Tyson said.

A Toowoomba Regional Council spokesman said John Tyson and Blake Rice were invited to attend Monday's flood anniversary commemoration via email on December 20.

"Should Mr Tyson choose to not attend the event, Toowoomba Regional Council understands and wishes him well during this very difficult time," he said.

Mr Tyson said he received no such email.

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