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OPINION: Unfair to blame diggers

By Seamus Boyer
[email protected]

An eyewitness account of a Filipino fisherman’s death at Lake Onoke in yesterday’s Times-Age has stirred up an emotional response among the paper’s readers.
Some have even started to point the finger at those who dug a trench at the mouth of the lake, with one going as far as to blame the men for Bennie Hombrebueno’s death.
This isn’t fair at all.
Presumably it is not illegal to dig a trench, no matter how silly it may be.
And if they had known what was going to happen, they wouldn’t have done it.
A police investigation into the death is ongoing, but Senior Sergeant Mike Sutton said yesterday that at this stage, with the information police have, there is no criminal investigation.
That means all information will simply be given to the coroner to decide exactly what happened.
On top of this, according to the eyewitness Mr Hombrebueno appeared well aware that the trench was being dug, but chose to remain on the other side of the bar, fishing into the lake.
Whether anyone said anything to him, warning him to come back before they finished digging the channel, is unclear.
Looking back, it is so easy to see what could have been done to avoid the incident.
Mr Hombrebueno could have crossed back to the Lake Ferry side earlier, and failing that, he could have chosen not to attempt the channel crossing once the water was flowing through it.
A boat could have been organised to pick him up.
And that is why the death is such a tragedy — it could so easily have been avoided.
Many comments on Facebook also point out that it should have been obvious that it was too dangerous to attempt to cross the mouth of the lake.
Once again this isn’t fair.
If you’ve fished there before, you know that the banks can quickly give way, and it can be hard to keep your balance on the stones.
But given Mr Hombrebueno had only been in the country since May last year, it’s possible he didn’t know how treacherous it could be.
Eventually a coroner will rule on cause of death, after examining all the information supplied by the police.
Then we’ll know exactly what happened, and what we can learn from this.


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