School community to be offered counselling after tragedy
STAFF and students at Bundaberg East State School will be offered counselling after a student was fatally injured in a freak incident during a break-up party at Anzac Pool.
Nine-year-old Karrisa McDonald was enjoying pizza with a group of friends on Thursday when a strong gust of wind picked up one of the pool's umbrellas and blew it into her.
The Year 4 pupil was hit on the side of the head and taken by ambulance to Bundaberg Hospital before being flown to the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane, where she died on Friday.
Education Queensland North Coast regional director Greg Peach said the school community was deeply saddened by the freak accident.
"This is an absolute tragedy and the school's thoughts and prayers are with the family at this terrible time," he said.
"We also extend our deepest sympathies to friends, staff at the school and all students who knew the Year 4 student."
Mr Peach said the priority now was for the welfare and wellbeing of staff and students at the school.
Bundaberg Mayor Mal Forman said he was personally devastated at the news of the accident at the Bundaberg Regional Council-owned pool.
Cr Forman said the pool had been at capacity on Thursday, with about 360 bathers in the water.
"The lessee and his staff were very vigilant with so many people in the water," he said.
"The last thing they anticipated was this tragedy to unfold with a young girl sharing a pizza on the lawns with schoolmates."
Cr Forman said he understood the umbrella had been tied down, but a strong gust of wind had picked it up and blew it through the air.
He said he extended his sympathies to Karrisa's family.
"It's going to be a terrible Christmas for her family and friends," he said.
Queensland Workplace Health and Safety officers will lead the official investigation into assessing events surrounding the tragedy.
Karrisa's family and friends took to social media to mourn the young girl's loss.
Older sister Stephanie Bawden, who is studying in Brisbane, said on Facebook that Karrisa loved to do scrapbooking and always brought her scrapbook with her when she visited.
Friend Serena Hunt, whose child also attends the school, posted: "Charlie said the whole school was praying for her (on Friday)."
Kylie Porter wrote on the NewsMail Facebook page: "RIP, Karrisa, you will be sadly missed."
And Tara Turner wrote: "RIP, Karrisa. Taya will never forget you. Spread your wings, baby girl. Love, your friend Nataya xoxo."