David Felsch lives at South Ballina and tried to offer assistance after a car crashed into the Richmond River yesterday, and the 17-year-old driver died.
David Felsch lives at South Ballina and tried to offer assistance after a car crashed into the Richmond River yesterday, and the 17-year-old driver died.

'Too dark, too deep': Witness said rescuers felt helpless

A SOUTH Ballina man who watched the heartbreaking search for a teenage driver who crashed into the Richmond River says he's been fighting for years to get that stretch of road fixed.

David Felsch lives a few doors down from the site where Logan Bradford, 17, veered her car into the river and tragically died.

Arriving within five minutes of the crash, Mr Felsch said the female passenger who managed to escape the car was on the riverbank.

She was in shock after what she had just survived.

Together they watched on as a couple of men tried their hardest to reach Logan by free diving, but despite their efforts the water "was too dark and too deep" to reach her in time.

Mr Felsch said he rushed home to get his jet ski and then later, his tractor crane, to assist with the search.

The scene at South Ballina where a 17-year-old girl died when her car plunged into the Richmond River.
The scene at South Ballina where a 17-year-old girl died when her car plunged into the Richmond River.

"When you're under water, every minute is too long," he said.

"I was standing there frustrated, so I went to get my jet ski, I was trying to figure out what I could do.

"I know it's a very deep part of the river, it's probably the deepest part of the river.

"I went and got my jet ski to see if it could be of use but by the time I got back there were all the (rescue) boats.

"I came back and got my tractor crane, thinking we could get rope on, but they couldn't find the car."

But sadly for Mr Felsch, this was not the first major incident he has seen along on River Dr during his 60 years living in the area.

>>> MORE PHOTOS: Desperate rescue effort after car plunges into river

"I've known of five cars that have gone in there and everyone has gotten out and they've all said to me they were just lucky to get out," he said.

Through his work on various council committees, Mr Felsch said he had continued to advocate for better road maintenance along the dangerous stretch.

"We've got sand trucks meeting little cars, we have buses, we have garbage trucks, we have sugar cane trucks," he said.

"On certain days of the week, it's like Pitt St and can get really busy.

"You could be doing something totally innocent and end up in the river.

"The road's not up to the traffic that is on it."

Mr Felsch said one of the biggest safety issues was that on some parts of the road, there was hardly any space between the riverbank and the bitumen.

Meanwhile, Ballina Shire Council's civil services director John Truman said the council had closed the roads in response to the incident and ceased operations of Burns Point Ferry while police carried out their investigations on Tuesday.

"We understand NSW Police will now prepare a report for the Coroner," he said.

"Should any recommendations be made to council from the Coroner, then we will take appropriate action."



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