Emergency response call-outs from crews surrounding South Australia’s Barossa Valley show the chilling moments leading up to the discovery of a man and a baby who plunged to their deaths on Wednesday.
The man and baby girl died after they fell from the popular Whispering Wall, the retaining wall of the Barossa Reservoir, north of Adelaide.
Emergency services rushed to Whispering Wall at 4.30pm on Wednesday following reports from bystanders that a man and baby had fallen from the dam wall.
The first responders were paramedics called to the Whispering Wall for a psychiatric incident.
The SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) sent a unit from nearby Hamley Bridge station to the dam at 4.30pm.
At 4.32pm, a call-out was sent for additional units from Playford and Oakden ambulance stations requesting assistance for an “emergency” situation.
The medical shock trauma acute resuscitation helicopter was then sent at 4.36pm.
SA Ambulance then dispatched the special operations team, a crew of paramedics trained to perform high-risk search and rescue procedures, including those involving water and cliff rescues.
By 4.48pm the mission had changed to a body retrieval.
Crews found the man’s body and a baby who was unresponsive.
South Australia Police said the baby could not be revived and died at the scene.
“Police and emergency services were called to the Whispering Wall after witnesses reported seeing a man and infant go over the edge of the wall and fall to the ground,” police said.
“When patrols arrived, they found a deceased man and an infant who was unresponsive.
“Paramedics worked on the infant but sadly, she died at the scene.”
Detectives from Barossa CIB, forensic investigators and the major crime branch remained on the scene on Wednesday, and the reservoir remained closed on Thursday morning.
They confirmed there were no other persons of interest.
“Detectives from Barossa CIB and major crime branch, along with forensic crime scene investigators, have attended the scene to examine the circumstances surrounding the incident,” SA Police said in a statement.
“At this stage, no one else is being sought over the deaths.
“Police will be preparing a report for the state coroner.”
The Whispering Wall is in the Barossa Valley’s south. It is a 36 metre-high retaining wall for the Barossa Reservoir and attracts visitors for its unique acoustic effects.
“Words whispered at one side can be clearly heard at the other, more than 100 metres away. Children in particular love visiting the wall and testing its abilities,” a description on the Barossa Australia website reads.
SA Water says the dam will be closed to tourists on Thursday.
Schubert MP Stephan Knoll described the incident as “awful”.
“I‘m very interested to see what the police investigation and the coronial investigation come out (with) and whether or not things do need to be done to modify the Whispering Wall there,” he said.
The state MP representing the Barossa Valley said safety improvements could be required at the Whispering Wall.
Mr Knoll said he would take suggestions to improve the safety of the wall if an investigation concluded they were needed.
“Because it is a very popular tourist attraction and something that young people and kids of generations have been going to visit and not before have we heard or seen of an incident like this,” he said.
“But, having said that, if things need to be done to modify the structure, then that‘s something we need to look at.”