On June 11, 2011, a mother’s worst nightmare unfolded when 14 year old Courtney Mae Simon went missing on Lake Macquarie – Australia’s largest coastal salt-water lake and twice the size of Sydney Harbour.
Courtney had set off at around 2pm in a four-metre tinnie with two friends, heading for one of the islands on the lake to camp overnight. The weather wasn’t good but they had made this trip many times before and, being young and confident, had few concerns for their safety.
By 4pm the weather had worsened and it wasn’t long before the boat became swamped and capsized. The unworn lifejackets disappeared when the boat flipped and the three were stranded, fully clothed in cold water and in the dark.
The two boys made it to safety but Courtney disappeared and her body wasn’t found until eleven days later – leaving a stricken and grieving family and a small community in shock.
Courtney’s mother, Cathy, despite her grief and her natural anxiety about having to re-live her experiences during the impending Coroner’s Inquest on August 13, has decided to use the loss of her beautiful, young daughter to raise awareness about the importance of everyone wearing lifejackets while on the water – especially those in smaller vessels.
Friends of Courtney and Cathy are organising a fund-raising event by the lake in August and are hoping to raise enough money to produce ”Courtney’s Rule” stickers to give away to place on boats to remind boaties to always wear their lifejacket.
The stickers will be distributed through sailing and boating clubs, marinas and tackle shops throughout Australia to get the message out to as many people as possible.
Lifejackets, when worn, really can save lives.
Email Cathy Simon if you wish to help in some way: firstname.lastname@example.org
interview & story by: Di Pollard 29/04/2012