'We're going to die', flood inquest told

·2-min read

The partner of a Tasmanian newspaper delivery driver who was killed in floodwaters told him "you're know we're going to die don't you?" moments before he was swept away.

Peter Watson, 63, was one of three people who died in separate incidents when a deluge hit the island state in mid-2016.

An inquest on Wednesday heard from Karen Cassidy who was with Mr Watson on the early morning June 7 newspaper run when their van got into trouble near Evandale in the state's north.

In a statement read to the inquest, Ms Cassidy said Mr Watson had expressed concerns about making deliveries after a "bad run" with floods the day prior.

She went with him because "four eyes were better than two".

Ms Cassidy said they encountered some water over a road which pushed the van and gushed higher before they could drive out.

She said there were no signs indicating the road was closed. The pair called family before climbing to the top of the vehicle.

"I said to Peter, 'you know we're going to die don't you?'," Ms Cassidy said, before Mr Watson slipped.

"I didn't see him after that. It was too dark. I was singing out to him."

Ms Cassidy was rescued by helicopter clinging to debris after being forced to leap from the van.

The inquiry will examine emergency service responses, as well as flows from Hydro Tasmania catchments, which counsel assisting Simon Nicholson said was not a factor in the flooding.

Mr Watson's body was found about two weeks later following extensive searches.

"Peter was a really good swimmer ... (he) was really switched on and would have done his best to survive," Ms Cassidy said.

Tasmania Police constable Bradley Collins attended a 7.50am emergency services meeting where it was decided to pursue a ground search rather than on-water efforts.

He said the decision was based on the condition of the river and Mr Watson's timeframe of survival.

"The risk of injury or death (to search personnel) ... far outweighed the likelihood of finding the missing person," he said.

"At that stage we didn't have anyone ... who was qualified for swift water rescue."

The inquest will also examine the death of 81-year-old Trevor Foster, who was swept away by floodwaters while feeding sheep on his farm at Ouse.

A separate inquest, slated to begin in September, will investigate the death of 75-year-old grandmother Mary Allford who became trapped in her house.

More than 110 people were rescued during the floods, while 260 properties were flooded and hundreds of sheep and cattle were killed.

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