'He was the love of my life': Tragedy sparks call for change
STILL enduring the grief of having her partner killed in a freak accident on the beach at Bangalee on June 15, 2017, Clair Fitzpatrick is calling for an upgrade to the access ramp and recovery education to 4WD drivers to avoid another fatality.
Ms Fitzpatrick said her partner Christopher Poulsen was an experienced driver who had spent many enjoyable hours exploring local beaches.
His accident occurred while trying to help another driver, his friend, get off the beach north of Yeppoon when the tow strap snapped back through his windscreen.
"I believe installing an all-weather permanent concrete ramp at Bangalee to replace the current timber and chain set-up would be a step forward in mitigating the risk of someone else being hurt or fatally injured," Ms Fitzpatrick said.
"Improving the quality of the ramp would help to ensure the safety of drivers of all skill levels and would decrease the need for recovery equipment.
"We really should be affording residents and visitors a safer beach access. Currently due to the nature of the beach access and a steep blind gradient at Bangalee, drivers need to maintain full acceleration to prevent their vehicle getting bogged in the soft sand which leads to other safety issues at the site."
Ms Fitzpatrick said the access is essentially a blind rise which increases the possibility vehicles colliding and creates a huge safety risk for pedestrians who currently use the ramp for access.
"There is no dedicated walking track to the beach other than a track made by locals to the right that has no signage and would not be evident if you don't know it is there," she said.
"As a high number of people access this beach it is paramount that the ramp is upgraded to something that is durable to the weather and tidal condition and longstanding to ensure the safety of everyone who wish to access the beach.
"Chris was the absolute love of my life and I am committed to honouring his legacy and I feel improving the ramp will provide safer access and go a long way to preventing another tragedy at this site."
Livingstone Shire Councillor Adam Belot, an avid surfer, has been a regular user of the Bangalee Boat Ramp himself and wants to see something done to improve the infrastructure before someone else is harmed.
"Council have applied for state funding three times and each time the submission has been rejected," Cr Belot said.
"Bangalee residents have told me they pull at least five vehicles out every weekend and drivers are getting stuck more frequently.
"We need a full concrete ramp installed. Council already have drawings and a design plan done and a costing which was around $750,000, we just need to find the funding to implement the new infrastructure.
"There are other options including inserting plastic honeycomb pallets into the sand to improve grip, but these are weather dependant and would have to be removed and reinstalled every time we have have an extreme weather event.
"It's wonderful to see so many people enjoying our beaches, we just need to have the infrastructure in place so everyone is safe."
Cr Belot said he has also requested that the council undertake information and an open day at Bangalee ramp for 4x4 drivers, boardriders, fishermen and other beach users to demonstrate suitable recovery practices if bogged.