THE distraught grandmother of three girls involved in a fatal boating accident at Goondiwindi says words can’t describe her family’s pain.
Her 16-year-old granddaughter, Paris Wilson, is dead, along with American exchange student Cameron O’Neill-Mullins, while her 12-year-old granddaughter, Dodie Wilson, remains in a critical condition in Brisbane’s Mater Hospital.
The three girls were being towed on an inflatable tube behind a speedboat at the Goondiwindi Natural Heritage and Water Park about 3pm on Tuesday when the accident happened.
At the time the boat was being driven by Paris and Dodie’s older sister 17-year-old Bianca Wilson.
Yesterday Jeanette Grant, the grandmother of the three sisters, described the accident as a “horrible, horrible tragedy”.
“We are just devastated,” she said.
“It is so very hard to put how we feel into words.
“You just never expect to be in this situation.”
It is believed the inflatable tube on which the three girls were riding swung out and hit a tree on the bank, instantly killing the two teenagers and critically injuring the younger rider.
The three passengers and the boat driver were all students at St Hilda’s School at the Gold Coast.
Miss O’Neill-Mullins, 16, was on a five-week exchange to Australia from St Paul’s School for Girls in Baltimore, Marylands.
She had been staying with the Wilson family at their Goondiwindi grazing property Nungwai for the Easter school holidays.
While St Hilda’s declined to comment yesterday, it was believed principal Peter Crawley travelled to the border township to offer the family support.
“I don’t know how you ever come to terms with something like this but we have been overwhelmed by people’s kindness and support,” Mrs Grant said.
She said her 12-year-old granddaughter had been airlifted to Brisbane in the wake of the accident and remained in intensive care.
“The good news is Dodie doesn’t appear to have suffered any brain damage but she has broken ribs, a fractured pelvis and other injuries,” Mrs Grant said.
“She was in induced coma and she is still very sick but we are hoping she will be okay.”
She said the real concern for now was with her older granddaughter Bianca, who was operating the boat at the time of the accident.
“We are so worried for her,” Mrs Grant said.
“It is such a tragedy and Bianca is having so much trouble coping.
“She is very sad, very sorry and very devastated.”
The girls’ mother Sandie Wilson said in a media interview just hours after the accident, that something had gone wrong.
“There was perhaps a small judgment error with the boat turning point and the girls were flung up the bank of the water park,” she said.
“It was just a tragic accident.”
A long-time Goondiwindi resident said yesterday the close-knit border community was in shock.
“The Wilsons are a well-known local family and the water park is a popular place for young people,” she said.
“So, naturally, the town is in shock.
“These girls were home on school holidays and out enjoying themselves and then this terrible incident happened.
“It just makes you very, very sad.
“Two families – one halfway around the world – have been devastated.”
Meanwhile Goondiwindi Ski Club’s Brendan Griffith rejected suggestions the local water park was narrow and potentially hazardous for skiing.
“This is an internationally recognised venue, we had the last round of the Queensland water skiing championships here just last weekend,” he said.
“Where this incident happened is the most innocuous section, but sometimes accidents happen.”
Police investigations into the fatality are continuing.
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