A teenage boy has died in a freak accident after he was sucked into a drainpipe during floodwaters while he was collecting golf balls.
The body of Luke O’Neill, 17, was found by friends as they searched in reeds about 40 meters away from the exit of the drain at the Kew Country Club, in Kew, New South Wales, Australia.
The incident took place at around 07:00 am on Saturday.
According to police, O’Neill had waded into the waist-deep waters to scoop up the golf balls with some friends, when he was suddenly dragged into the large drainpipe by the force of the water.
While two friends searched for him at the entrance of the drain, a 16-year-old was also sucked underwater.
The 16-year-old, who has not been named, traveled the length of the 100 meter pipe but he finished up in a dam at the other end where he managed to escape, Sky News reports.
However, O’Neill did not emerge.
The two friends were taken to Port Macquarie Base Hospital “in a distraught state,” and the 16-year-old had water in his lungs, police told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Inspector Kim Fehon, from the Mid North Coast local area command, said:
“They were just looking for the golf balls, it was a regular thing they did.”
“They’re local boys. It’s an absolutely huge impact. Everybody in that area will know about it. It’s a very tight-knit community.”
Chris Wright, committee member of the Camden Haven Bombers AFL club, where O’Neill was a long standing a member, described the teenager as a gifted and “wonderful boy.”
He added, “He was the type of kid who could turn his hand to anything.”
A comprehensive rescue effort involving local police, New South Wales Fire and Rescue, paramedics and volunteers was mounted in the search for O’Neill.
A report is being prepared for the coroner.
Torrential rain and gales have battered the Mid North Coast region for the second time in a month and police have warned the public to stay away from flooded areas as heavy rain continues.