30 November 2023

Visiting student dies after falling from raft at Casuarina Sands

| Claire Fenwicke
Start the conversation
Casuarina Sands

Casuarina Sands, at the Cotter on the Murrumbidgee River, is a popular swimming spot for Canberrans. Photo: Bree Anforth.

A 23-year-old man has died in hospital following a weekend mishap at popular Canberra swimming spot Casuarina Sands.

Visiting student Shehryaar Abbasi had been floating on rafts with two other men on the Murrumbidgee River on Sunday afternoon (26 November).

Shehryaar fell off his raft and disappeared underwater.

He was pulled from the water by witnesses, who attempted to revive him until emergency services arrived.

ACT Policing understood Shehryaar was an inexperienced swimmer.

READ ALSO Suspended police officer charged with manslaughter over the death of Clare Nowland

According to his cousin Usman Murtaza Abbasi, he was on a ventilator in hospital until he died on Wednesday afternoon (29 November).

“He was a cherished member of our community, and his sudden departure has left us all in shock and grief,” Mr Abbasi wrote in a post on a GoFundMe page.

Mr Abbasi had set up the page to raise the funds needed to transport his cousin back to Pakistan.

“The Abbasi family also lost his other young brother in a road accident a few years ago. The family has been enduring an unimaginable journey of loss and grief,” he wrote.

“The pain of losing a loved one is never easy, and losing two family members within such a short span has added an indescribable weight to their hearts.”

The page has reached its fundraising goal.

READ ALSO SES and Fire and Rescue receive 81 requests for assistance in less than a day as severe thunderstorms hit ACT

According to Canberra’s Refugee and Migrant Swimming Project, every six days, a person who was born overseas dies by drowning in Australia.

Predictions of a hot summer have prompted urgent calls for people to keep water safety in mind when heading out for a dip.

The National Drowning Report 2023 showed there were 281 drowning deaths in the 2022-23 financial year across Australia, with 103 of those (37 per cent) in inland waterways.

Royal Life Saving Society Australia CEO Justin Scarr has previously voiced his concerns about declining swimming and water safety skills among both children and adults.

“The impacts of missed lessons throughout the COVID-19 pandemic will have generational impacts on safety if left unaddressed,” he said.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.