Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Ewan Louis WILLIAMSON

Inquest into the Death of Ewan Louis WLLIAMSON

Delivered on : 22 August 2016

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : State Coroner Fogliani

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : The deceased was a 14 year old boy who resided in Scotland with his mother.. He had travelled to Western Australia to visit his father arriving in Perth on 16 December 2012 and he planned to stay for one week. The deceased died in the late afternoon on 21 December 2012 at Exmouth District Hospital, having been conveyed there by ambulance after suffering severe heatstroke. He had collapsed earlier that day whilst he was hiking with his father along the Badjirrajirra Walk. This a walking trail in the Cape Range National Park, approximately 25 kilometres south of Exmouth in the Gascoyne Region. At the trail head there was a sign that gave certain warnings about walking in hot temperatures.

The deceased’s father miscalculated the effect that the heat would have on his son and at one point unfortunately took a wrong turn on the trail. The result was that Ewan, who was not acclimatised to the heat, spent far more time than his father had intended walking along a rocky trail in a remote location on an extremely hot day. The inquest focussed on the difficulties experienced by the deceased’s father in seeking emergency assistance, and the difficulties experienced by the emergency services in rendering that assistance.

The State Coroner found that the deceased’s death was not caused or contributed to by any action of a member of the Police Force and noted the courageous and sustained efforts of the emergency personnel, who were operating in a completely inhospitable environment.

The State Coroner heard evidence of a number of significant improvements in practices, procedures, resourcing and technology since the time of the deceased’s death, particularly recent advances concerning the mobile locating information system. The State Coroner concluded in light of the improvements outlined at the inquest, there was no need for any recommendations to be made.

The State Coroner commented that the Cape Range National Park environment is captivating but it can also be inherently dangerous and noted the importance of heeding the warnings on the signs.

The State Coroner found the deceased died of severe heatstroke complicating a recent viral illness with focal myocarditis.  The State Coroner found death occurred by way of accident.

Catch Words : Heatstroke ; Emergency Services in remote areas : Dangers of walking in remote areas in extreme heat : Accident

Last updated: 13-Feb-2024

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