Dubbo clubs grieve after death of Sam Fraser

He'll be missed: Sam Fraser lifts the Dubbo and District Junior Rugby League under 16s trophy after captain St John's to victory in September. Photo: NICK GUTHRIE

He'll be missed: Sam Fraser lifts the Dubbo and District Junior Rugby League under 16s trophy after captain St John's to victory in September. Photo: NICK GUTHRIE

Teammates and friends of Sam Fraser are struggling to come to terms with his death after he drowned while swimming at Churchies Reserve on Monday afternoon.

The 16-year-old was a talented sportsman and was hugely popular with clubmates and those he played against in cricket and rugby league.

In September he captained the St John’s to a premiership in the Dubbo and District Junior Rugby League (DDJRL) under 16s competition and had established himself in the South Dubbo Hornets first grade cricket team.

Souths president Joshua Williams said Sam’s death had left everyone at the club in shock.

“When I found out, I just sat there. I am just numb.  I still can’t believe it. I’m still waiting for someone to tell me it isn’t true,” he said.

Josh said Sam had started with the South Dubbo club in 2013 and made his way through the grades. The young leg-spinner had a knack of picking up a wicket when it was needed.

“Sam’s proudest cricketing memory wasn’t his first wicket or taking that classic catch against Macquarie in round 1 this year, or even making his first grade debut, but when he had the privilege of batting with his father, and life member of South Dubbo, Michael,” he said.

“To Michael, Karen, Grace and all of the Frasers family and friends; the Hornets are here for you.  As a club we will pull together to get through this difficult time.”

Sam’s coach in the St John’s under 16s, Bernard Wilson, said he was struggling to deal with the situation and declined to comment other than calling Sam a “champion little kid” and the club described him as a “born leader”.

A halfback, Sam had played junior representative football and was a good clubman, according to DDJRL president Neil Millgate.

“This is a really tragic and unfortunate situation. The rugby league community will do everything it can to assist Sam’s family and our thoughts are with Karen and Mick,” he said.

Sam was swimming with friends at Churchies Reserve, he failed to surface after taking a turn swinging on a rope into the Macquarie River.

He was last seen at 3pm and a search involving police, the Dubbo Rescue Squad and family and friends lasted five hours before his body was found.

Earlier reports from Tuesday

Macquarie River near Bunglegumbie Road outside Dubbo. Photo: Tottenham Topics Facebook page

Macquarie River near Bunglegumbie Road outside Dubbo. Photo: Tottenham Topics Facebook page

Large amounts of community members turned up at the scene and supported the family through this very difficult period.

"It was heart warming to see so many people turn up and support the grieving family and offer assistance to emergency services on scene.

“It was a very tragic set of circumstances, boys having fun in a very popular place on the river, doing what they have done many times before, and no doubt an activity that is repeated day in and day out at popular river spots all over. 

“This time a young boy has lost his life and this tragedy will be felt deeply throughout our community," Orana Local Area Command inspector Dan Skelly said. 

"The summer holiday season will bring many people to the river and we appeal to people to be aware of their environment, look for things like submerged objects, fast flowing sections of the river; that can be over six metres deep in areas, floating logs and other debris. 

“River levels can change on a daily basis, what is deep enough to dive into today, could be too shallow tomorrow." Inspector Skelly said. 

The young boy is the third person to drown in Australia in the past week. A Malaysian man died in Victoria last week while a 21-year-old man also drowned five days ago in a quarry near Ipswich. 

Justin Scarr, the chief executive officer of the Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RLSSA), said unfortunately it was that time of year when young men were more at risk of drowning. 

"More than 90 per cent of rivers drownings are male, and men overestimate ability and underestimate the risk of aquatic activity," he said. 

"What seems to be simple bit of fun can be incredibly dangerous," he said.

"The local swimming hole can be safe one day , and very dangerous the next .. because of the currents and debris travelling down the riverway," he said.

Tuesday 6am: The body of a teenager was located in the Macquarie River, Dubbo, on Monday night. 

Just before 3pm, emergency services were called to Bunglegumbie Road, following reports that a 16-year-old boy went missing whilst swimming in the Macquarie River.

Officers attached to Orana Local Area Command attended but could not locate the boy.

A search was co-ordinated by police and members of the Volunteer Rescue Association who located the teen deceased in the water about 8.15pm on Monday night. 

A report will now be prepared for the coroner.