Gassa skier Luke Wentworth has been the person identified in the tragic death that occurred at roughly 10am this morning in the Southern 80 ski race.
Hold tight - we’re checking permissions before loading more content
The popular event was cancelled shortly after the incident occurred with the majority of classes on Sunday not going ahead.
The Gassa ski team posted on their Facebook page: “We only have sad news at the moment, please be mindful there is a lot happening @ the moment. We can’t answer any questions for a few days, we only need support for the team.”
NSW Police Chief Inspector Paul Huggett confirmed an investigation had been opened into the incident but declined to comment due to the early nature of the inquiry.
The exact location was not disclosed by the police due to the incident being deemed an active crime scene, but it is believed to have been near Arnold Bend in Wharparilla.
Inspector Huggett confirmed that the Mr Wentworth was from regional Victoria and said other reported injuries were from other incidents.
He said this death would reverberate through the close-knit Echuca Moama community for months to come.
“These incidents are an absolute tragedy. They affect all of the community from emergency services to the bloke that owns the fish and chip shop,” he said.
“This will affect the community for months to come when everyone goes home. It’s an absolute tragedy, but ... I’m very proud of all emergency services for the courtesy of respect and professionalism that they’ve conducted in their duties this afternoon.”
Moama Water Sports Club president Steve Shipp issued the following statement regarding the incident.
“Unfortunately, during this morning’s events at the 2024 Southern 80 water ski race, there was an incident involving one of our competing teams where a skier fell and could not be revived at the scene.
“Racing was immediately suspended and has since been cancelled.
“The club is cooperating with NSW Police and Transport for NSW - Maritime, in their investigation into the incident.
“As a ski racing family we are here to support the affected family and team members as well as the wider ski racing community in this terribly sad time.”
According to an eyewitness account from a nurse, Mr Wentworth fell into the water near Arnold Bend in Wharparilla and was fatally wounded.
The nurse at the Arnold Bend Camping Area said she believed the incident occurred when a boat driver tried to move away from another racing boat that got too close to them.
She said the other skier immediately raised their arm to signal that someone was in the water, but by the time their boat was able to turn around, it was too late.
The witness rushed down to the scene of the incident, but was told that Mr Wentworth had no pulse.
NSW Police confirmed the death, stating they had responded to the incident only an hour after racing kicked off.
“About 10am today, emergency services were called to the Murray River near Perricoota Road, Moama, following reports a man had been seriously injured while skiing on the water.
“On arrival, paramedics from Victoria Ambulance located a man who had died at the scene; he is yet to be formally identified.
“Officers attached to Murray River Police District have commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.”
An Ambulance Victoria spokesman also said responders attended two separate incidents today.
“We went to Torrumbarry at 9:42am, where a man in his 20s with a leg injury was taken to Echuca Hospital in a stable condition,” he said.
The spokesman said the other incident occurred at Wharparilla at roughly the same time, however the matter is now being dealt with by police.
The race was red-flagged at approximately 10am this morning following the incident, and it was confirmed that the action will not resume at any stage today.
The death is the seventh fatality in the event since 1987, and the first since 2017.
The Southern 80 Ski Race covers 126 bends between Torrumbarry Weir and Victoria Park Boat Ramp in Echuca, with teams consisting of a driver, observer and two skiers.
Boats can travel at speeds close to 200km/h in the event.
More to come.