Blake Rice (blue baseball cap) with his rescuers at the James and Kitchener sts intersection moments after his mother and brother were washed away in floodwater.
Blake Rice (blue baseball cap) with his rescuers at the James and Kitchener sts intersection moments after his mother and brother were washed away in floodwater. Adam Davies

Son told mum to keep driving

A POLICE interview with young flood survivor Blake Rice has revealed that his dead brother urged his mother to drive through floodwaters at the intersection of James and Kitchener sts.

The police report into the deaths of Donna and Jordan Rice on January 10 has revealed that Jordan urged his mother to drive, saying, "Keep driving. It is not that deep. Mum, stop being a pussy. Keep driving."

Blake said in a police video interview that Donna Rice continued heading into the floodwater despite her own reservations.

"It is getting pretty deep," Blake recalled his mother saying.

The statement forms part of the official police report that was handed to Queensland State Coroner Michael Barnes at the inquest into their deaths.

Blake Rice's video statement to police was recorded at Toowoomba Police Station on Tuesday, January 25.

The coronial inquest into the deaths of Donna and Jordan Rice as well as 23 other people killed in the Lockyer Valley started in Brisbane yesterday.

The report was compiled by Detective Senior Sergeant Paul McCusker of Toowoomba CIB and Detective Senior Sergeant Mitchell Castles of the State Crime Operations Command.

The report contains information that has never been made public.

On Monday, January 10, the report states that Ms Rice drove into the intersection of James and Kitchener sts where floodwater from East Creek inundated their stationary vehicle, causing it to stall.

"The water was below the tyres but, when the car stalled, the water started to rush in," Blake said.

The report also made reference to the seven triple 0 calls made by Ms Rice and witnesses to police.

The report says that triple 0 calls were answered by the Ipswich Police Communication Centre before being transferred to Toowoomba, and that "emergency services first became aware of the flooding event involving the deceased person at 2.14pm".

This was 35 minutes after Donna Rice's first call to triple 0 requesting assistance.

"When the car stalled, mum started to panic. She called triple 0 and they told us to get onto the roof of the car," Blake said.

Two people, Warren McErlean and Christopher Skehan, entered the floodwater to attempt to rescue the family.

Both men successfully rescued Blake.

"After Jordan told the rescuer to take me first, the guy said, 'C'mon little man, it will be okay'," Blake told police in his video statement.

Ms Rice and Jordan were left stranded on the roof of the vehicle.

As floodwaters rose, the rescue rope Mr Skehan was using snapped, throwing all three into the torrent of water.

In his statement, Blake recalled the scene at the intersection.

"The water was really, really fast and just kept rising really quickly," he recalled.

In the police video, Blake starts to cry when recalling watching his mother and brother getting washed away.

"Jordan was struggling in the water. I saw mum get hold of a street pole, but Jordan couldn't so she let go to try and get to him," Blake recalled.

"I did not see them again after that," he added.

Police investigations revealed that three people who were filming the flood further down the road had inadvertently captured the pair being swept to their deaths.

In evidence tendered, video footage shows that Ms Rice and Jordan managed to cling to a power pole after being swept into the water.

The video footage then shows firstly Ms Rice, then Jordan lose their grip on the pole and both are swept away by the water.

The report states that an office worker who was filming the water rushing down Kitchener St captured them both attempting to grab onto overhanging tree branches before being washed from view.

The police report states that: "At approximately 3.30pm, three workers at the Allied Milling Company advised Queensland Fire and Rescue that a body had been located at the rear of the complex.

"The body, later identified as Donna Rice, was found wedged between the cement driveway and a cement loading platform, a distance of two kilometres from the intersection of James and Kitchener sts.

"At approximately 5.15pm, Queensland Fire and Rescue Services located the body of Jordan Rice suspended in tree foliage on Margaret St, five feet above ground level and 1.1 kilometres from the intersection," the police report stated.

On January 12, Dr Guard, a forensic pathologist, performed an autopsy and advised that the cause of death of both Donna and Jordan Rice was anoxia due to drowning.

In its conclusion, the report states that: "Statements and footage reveal that the deceased Donna Maree Rice knowingly drove her vehicle into the intersection of Kitchener and James sts which at the time was being inundated with rapidly rising flood waters from East Creek."

The police further found that "there were no suspicious circumstances relating to the deaths of Donna Rice and Jordan Rice on January 10, 2011."

The inquest will resume in Brisbane today.



VALLEY ROUND-UP: All the community happenings

VALLEY ROUND-UP: All the community happenings

Find out what's happening in your part of town

10 years of walking the coast for a great cause

10 years of walking the coast for a great cause

A whopping sum raised at charity walk

PHOTOS: Records plummet at Clarence swim carnival

PHOTOS: Records plummet at Clarence swim carnival

Swimmers in top form ahead of Zone championships at Coffs

Local Partners