Young man drowned at Stockton Lake had ‘bright future’, family says
The family of a man who drowned at a popular camping spot in Western Australia says the 22-year-old was a successful, friendly man with a bright future ahead of him.
John Rashidi, a carpenter originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, had swum out to retrieve an inflatable toy at Stockton Lake, near Collie in the state’s south-west, on Monday evening.
His body was found by police divers this morning.
His uncle, Julien Rashidi, said John would be greatly missed by his family, his friends and the community.
“People will really miss John,” he said.
“He was a friend to everyone, it doesn’t matter if you were meeting him for the first time, he would make you laugh.”
Another uncle, Maurice Rashidi, said John’s death was a tragedy.
“It’s a big loss for us and we’re trying to stay together and comfort each other,” he said.
“We hope that God is going to help us to pass through this.”
Maurice Rashidi said this week’s events were something no family should have to go through.
“There’s no family that would like to see this happen to their young boy,” he said.
“If something can be done so this doesn’t happen to other families, that would be a great thing.”
Calls for more signs
The President of the Congolese Community of Western Australia and friend of the Rashidi family, Phil Bilombele, has called for more signs at the popular swimming spot.
Phil Bilombele has called for more signs at the popular swimming spot. (ABC News: Meggie Morris)
“I know there are signs about how acidic the water is, but it’s not enough,” he said.
“Some people come new to this place and they don’t really know how deep this water is going to be.”
Divers searched for the body in waters up to 16m deep, which Collie Police Senior Sergeant Heath Soutar said made the recovery a long and arduous process.
“Visibility is definitely an issue, if the bottom of the lake is disturbed it can dramatically affect visibility,” he said.
“Also the surface is very undulating.”
The family has thanked divers for their recovery efforts and the people who tried to help.
The recovery effort was “long and arduous”, local police said. (ABC South West: Anthony Pancia)
Brave rescue attempts
Desperate attempts to save the man on Monday were unsuccessful, but many have praised witnesses who leapt into action.
One of the men who tried to help, Reg Crosby, said everything happened so fast.
“When he went to grab it, it kept floating away from him, so he swam out a bit further to grab it but it was out of his depth,” Mr Crosby said.
“Then he yelled out, ‘I’m in trouble.'”
The 72-year-old, who was formerly in the Navy, said it was too late to save Mr Rashidi, despite the frantic efforts of those at the scene.
“They dived down to try and find him but there was no sight of him,” he said.
“You can’t do nothing once he’s gone down.”
The WA Royal Life Saving Society has indicated that several of the witnesses who tried to save Mr Rashidi could be in line for bravery awards to honour their efforts.