Hoon highway: Cop’s calls to ban Teewah camping
A fatal crash which claimed the life of a teenager has sparked calls from a senior police officer to ban camping and driving on the popular Teewah Beach.
In an open letter in the Rainbow Beach Community News, Rainbow Beach Senior Constable Mick Emery likened the popular camping ground to the "wild west" and said it was a "big problem".
In the letter he asked: "At what stage do we make a hard decision in the interests of safety - and to the benefit of the natural environment - and close camping on Teewah Beach altogether?"
"Does someone have to die before we take this issue seriously?
"And now, sadly, that is exactly what has just happened."
Are changes required for camping and driving on Teewah Beach?
Sen-Con Emery is referring to the fatal crash on August 23 which killed Bray Park teenager Tyreece Pilot, aged 18.
Mr Pilot tragically lost his life about 1am when the 4WD he was a passenger in rolled.
The driver of the Toyota Landcruiser, a 19-year-old Cashmere man, escaped with minor injuries.
"Is this the one? Is this finally the incident that will lead to things changing on Teewah Beach? What should that change look like?" Sen-Con Emery said.
"It's your National Park, so why not have a say via your local member.
"I know I won't be popular for saying this but let's be honest, Teewah Beach camping is a problem.
"Of course there are good folk down there who never cause an issue - and they will be adversely affected by their irresponsible counterparts.
"But no longer do we have the luxury of asking, 'does someone have to die before we take this issue seriously?'
"The dreadful and urgent question we now face is: how many more have to?"
Road Policing Command officer-in-charge Shane Panoho said motorists had long been abusing the privileges at Teewah and said some of their actions were "unacceptable".
However, Sen-Sgt Panoho said police did not have the capacity to operate on the beach 24/7 and deal with the "young drivers creating havoc".
"When you have young guys tearing around revving and what not, it ruins it for everyone. Pull your heads in," Sen-Sgt Panoho said.
"The attitude and behaviour needs to change.
"Members of family, friends, get the drivers to act responsibly or it mat be an option that the government changes things."
Sen-Sgt Panoho warned that if driver behaviour at Teewah did not change, restrictions could come into place similar to Fraser Island.
"It's loved to death," he said.
"We can and do impound vehicles and can restrict the public's access.
"But if things don't change, it may get to a point like Fraser Island, where access is far more restrictive."
Clayton's Towing owner Mike Clayton argued the actions of one driver should not spoil the beach for the rest of the campers.
Mr Clayton said if driving was banned at Teewah Beach, "hoons" would simply go somewhere else - like Bribie Island or Kenilworth.
"It's without a doubt a totally sad situation and I feel awful for the family, but you can't shut it down," Mr Clayton said.
Mr Clayton said rollovers at Teewah were not a common call-out for his company and said he believed the last fatal prior to August's was seven years ago.
Instead of shutting down the beach to motorists, Mr Clayton said greater punishment was needed.
"If they're caught hooning, police should have the power to impound their cars straight away, that way people know they're serious," he said.
"Doughnuts, slides, no seatbelts, on sand dunes, driving in a manner that's dangerous - hit them hard and fast.
"Take their license away, impound their cars, fine them heavily.
"You don't shut roads down from an irresponsible driver.
"People themselves can be their own worst enemies."
A Noosa North Shore local, who did not wish to be named, suggested making driving on the beach solely for tour groups and buses instead.