Daily errand trip ends life
THE tight-knit community of Glenwood has rallied around the widow of Fred Duffell, 83, who died when his car was washed off the road during Monday's flash flooding.
Aileen Duffell's husband of 60 years left their home in Varley St at around 7am to fetch a newspaper.
He never returned. Mrs Duffell was still waiting for him at midday when police showed up to give her the tragic news.
She had assumed he got stuck on the other side of the floodway on Arborten Rd as rain started pelting down "like sheets of glass" just after Mr Duffell left for the Glenwood store.
It is believed he lost sight of the road on his return and ran off the edge of the causeway because of the sea of water covering the surrounding area. Three men who tried to save him said the water level rose incredibly fast during the rescue attempt, making it impossible.
Forensic police officers from Maryborough were yesterday investigating the death of Mr Duffell.
His car left the road as he attempted to cross the floodway on Arborten Rd which crosses Gutchy Ck.
It was something he'd done many times before, but this amount of water had never been seen before by any long-term Glenwood residents.
"I can't understand how it happened. We often talked about people being stupid in floods," Fred's wife Aileen Duffell told The Gympie Times yesterday.
Friends and residents say he must have underestimated the water height or the strength of the flow.
A man who lives right next to the floodway said it was likely Mr Duffell lost sight of the road and driven off the side. "That's what I reckon," Col Acworth said.
"Three guys were trying to rescue the man...the water was below knee height at the time. One had a hold of the old fellow but then the water started rushing too much... it rose fast soon after he went in the water. There was no chance of pulling him out, the other guy was lucky he made it out. He had to take a big leap and grab on to a rope."
By 7.30am on Monday, Glenwood had received about 220mm of rain in just a few hours, which caused the worst flash flood in the area's recent history. Resident John Wolf has lived beside the floodway for 16 years. He said the amount of water that went through Gutchy Ck was the highest he had seen.
Mr Duffell was well-liked in Glenwood; known for his sense of humour. An ex-navy man, he retired to Varley Rd with his wife 25 years ago.
Glenwood Progress Associations are accepting cash donations for the Duffells. Phone Don on 5405 9966.