An 11-year-old boy and his father are dead and a woman is in a serious condition following a suspected gas leak from camping equipment on a remote beach north of Perth.
- The man and boy were on a family camping trip south of Wedge Island
- There are indications a fridge leaking gas inside the family’s tent caused their deaths
- Premier Mark McGowan has described the incident as a terrible tragedy
Police arrived on the beach yesterday about 8 kilometres south of the Wedge Island access road, about 150 kilometres north-west of Perth, after receiving a report a child was not breathing.
A rescue helicopter was dispatched from Perth.
Emergency services personnel found a man and child dead at the scene and a woman, believed to be the man’s wife, “in need of urgent medical assistance”.
It is understood the family’s dog also died.
The rescue helicopter airlifted the woman to Royal Perth Hospital, before she was later transferred to Fiona Stanley Hospital, where she remained this morning in a serious but stable condition.
Map showing site where bodies were found on beach
WA Police said in a statement the deaths were not being treated as suspicious.
“Initial investigation at the scene suggests there may have been a fault with an item of camping equipment located inside the tent the family were sleeping in,” WA Police said.
“This aspect of the investigation is ongoing.”
WA Police Minister Michelle Roberts said the incident was “very disturbing”.
“I understand there may have been some kind of gas leak from a fridge that was being used in the tent,” she said.
“It is just very tragic. It is a long weekend, so many people would have had a similar experience of camping, be it at Wedge Island or somewhere else, and they would have used potentially similar equipment.
“So there really does need to be a thorough investigation into how this occurred.”
Police said the Department of Fire and Emergency Services attended the scene to help with “the safe removal of the camping equipment”.
“Police would like to speak to anyone who was camping in the area at the time, and who have not already spoken to police,” they said.
‘Very sad and very tragic’: Premier
Premier Mark McGowan has described the incident as a terrible tragedy.
“It’s very, very sad and very tragic for everyone involved. The man’s wife is in a serious condition. For everyone involved it is a shocking situation,” he said.
The president of the local Shire of Dandaragan, Leslee Holmes, said the deaths were awful.
“It’s dreadful … you think of these weekends of everybody having a good time, spending time with their family, kids running around and having a ball and then you have a tragedy like this that’s quite unexplained,” he said.
He said the family was camping in an isolated area with limited access.
“You’re not [supposed] to camp there, there are signs and everything, but unfortunately they may not have seen them and they’ve been probably fairly away from everybody,” he said.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
The peninsula on the mainland adjacent to Wedge Island is home to a historic shanty town settlement that pre-dates WWII.
While camping is not permitted in many areas on the mainland, it is a popular holiday destination with tourists and West Australian families.