At approximately 5:30am on Tuesday 12 June two fifteen-year old boys rowing on the Brisbane River collided with a CityCat near the Davies Park Rowing Complex. According to an article in the Courier Mail both boys were members of the Commercial Rowing Club and had two to three years rowing experience. The article reported that the collision occurred “head on” and the boys “went completely under the CityCat” before being rescued by a nearby trainer. One of the boys was taken to the Mater Children Hospital with lacerations to the front and back of his head as well as possible neck injuries. The other boy, while deeply distressed, was not physically hurt. Peter Batt, regional operations supervisor of the Queensland Ambulance Service told the Courier Mail that the rowers were “lucky to have escaped with the injuries that they had”.
According to Cr Milton Dick of Brisbane City Council, this is the third incident that has occurred on the Brisbane River involving a row boat and a CityCat or Council ferry. It was reported in the Courier Mail that he commented on the need to improve communications between these parties and suggested that more should be done to reduce safety concerns in this shared space.
Currently, an isolation control is in place. According to Rowing Queensland CEO Ross Symonds, it is required that CityCats travel in the "centre third" of the Brisbane River while rowing boats must remain in the "outside thirds". An investigation by Water Police is underway to determine whether the boys were rowing outside their designated area at the time of the collision.
An administrative control in the form of a code of conduct for users of the Brisbane River is also currently in place, having been introduced following the last collision. Other controls include the installation of lights at the river and the fitting of CityCats with infra-red detection systems which were also implemented following the last incident. As part of the Water Police investigation, Mr Symonds told the Courier Mail that a review of the lighting on the river will also be undertaken.
While it appears that a number of controls (spanning multiple levels of the hierarchy of controls) have been applied, they appear to have failed in the case of the collision on 12 June. Given that there have been multiple incidents of this nature on the same stretch of river perhaps further work is required to eliminate or reduce the risk of collision.