Tragic end in search for NSW canyoners sucked into whirlpool

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·3-min read

The bodies of two missing women believed to have been sucked under water by a whirlpool while canyoning have been found.

The women, aged 24 and 39, were with a group of eight people when they disappeared under water about 12.30pm on Saturday.

Emergency crews were called to the Wollangambe Canyon, Mount Wilson, in the NSW Blue Mountains, about 2.30pm to aid in the search.

Signs at the track where the woman disappeared.
The women disappeared underwater about midday Saturday. Source: ABC News

Others in the group were uninjured and were helped by officers from the Blue Mountains Police Area Command, Police Rescue and NSW Ambulance.

Friends reportedly tossed a rope towards the women in an attempt to rescue them, but their effort was unsuccessful.

One member of the group had to climb up a ridge to get phone reception and call for help.

The search was called off about 6pm Saturday due to poor weather conditions and recommenced Sunday at 7am.

Severe weather lashed the area on Saturday bringing strong wind and flash flooding. It’s not known if the weather was to blame for the whirlpool.

Victim identified as hero police officer who beat breast cancer

The 39-year-old woman has been identified as serving NSW Police officer, Senior Constable Kelly Foster, who has most recently been stationed at Lithgow Police Station.

The other woman is believed to be an international student. She is yet to be formally identified and police are waiting for confirmation that family members have been notified, NSW police said in a statement.

Senior contable Kelly Foster was killed in the whirlpool accident. Source: Supplied
Senior contable Kelly Foster was killed in the whirlpool accident. Source: Supplied

Witnesses reported that the officer was trying to save the student from the whirlpool and a brave rescue attempt.

Witnesses say the officer Foster attempted to rescue the younger woman after her inflatable lilo was swept in by a whirlpool, tipping her off and into the water. Unfortunately she was also swept into the whirlpool as she tried to assist.

Police divers have recovered the bodies after they were found about midday on Sunday.

NSW Police Acting Commissioner Mal Lanyon has extended his condolences to the Foster family on behalf of the NSW Police Force.

“It’s a very sad time for the NSW Police Force and Kelly’s death is a loss to the whole community,” Acting Commissioner Lanyon said.

“To hear reports that Kelly was trying to help another woman when she died demonstrates her commitment to the community she served and the ability to put the needs of others before her own.

“Kelly was a highly regarded and dedicated officer who will be sorely missed by colleagues across the force.

“Her policing career was put on hold when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, however, her strength to survive this and return to work is another testament to her strength and resilience.

“Above all, Kelly was a kind and loving daughter, sister and partner.”

The family and friends of both women have requested privacy at this time.

A report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.

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