Parents mourn “beautiful boy” lost in creek tragedy
THE shattered father of a teenager who was swept away by fast flowing waters at a popular swimming hole north of Townsville has paid tribute to his "best friend and little mate".
Dane Bracey, 18, was with a group of friends at Big Crystal Creek on Sunday afternoon, when the teen leapt from a rock into the water and into fast flowing rapids.
He was pulled from the water by a 27-year-old swimmer, who administered first aid, but he could not be saved.
His father Darren described his son as the most "beautiful boy" who could fit like a glove no matter where he was.
"He was the most kind, big hearted, gentle giant you ever met," Mr Bracey told the Townsville Bulletin.
"He was quiet, but he had this wicked sense of humour, sarcastic as ... like his father.
"I couldn't be more proud of him. He was the apple of my eye, my best friend, he was my little mate."
"He loved his family. He said he loved us all at least once a day, every day."
"At the moment he was the happiest he's been forever.
"He found himself a girlfriend, he bought himself a car, his job's going good. He was just starting to live life."
"His mother and I are so, so proud of what he achieved."
Principal of St Anthony's Catholic College Barry Horner described his former pupil as a "fine young boy".
"It's a tragedy that his life's been called in short, as a school community on Monday we just tried to rally around his peers," Mr Horner said.
The Bracey family was last night surrounded by their loved ones.
Police defended the popular waterhole being open to the public so soon after the mass downpour brought on by ex-tropical Cyclone Owen.
In the 24 hours to 9am on Sunday, the Bureau of Meteorology recorded 238mm of rain at Paluma.
A number of people were said to be swimming in the creek when the tragedy unfolded.
"There's a 100 creeks between here (Townsville) and Ingham. National Parks can only do so much," Inspector Damian Irvine said.
"You don't have the time for the government to be putting those safety measures in, it's up to an individual to make those calls."
Insp Irvine reminded people to consider the dangers of swimming holes following large rain events.
"Even though the water looks good, the water looks calm, it's the currents underneath and the volume and strength of the water (that is a danger).
"Even an Olympic swimmer would get in trouble in that sort of water."
Department of Environment and Science was contacted for comment.