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.
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.
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.