WHOOPS! Main Roads inspector booked for driving into flood
AS EMBARRASSING moments go, few could be worse than that experienced by Main Roads Department inspector Steven Richard Murray, when he fronted Gympie Magistrates Court on Thursday.
With the Mary River running at minor flood height on February 24, Murray's Saturday shopping expedition became a comedy of errors.
Murray, 64, broke his department's "if it's flooded, forget it" mantra as he drove towards town from his Mothar Mountain home, intending to pick up his chain saw from the mower shop.
After crossing two other spots with water over the road, he drove past a No Entry sign in Noosa Rd, attempted to cross the flood water and came to a damaging stop as his car engine stalled in knee deep water about 50m in.
That much could have been worse, the court was told on Thursday. The water was more than 1m deep further on.
Emergency services received notification that a vehicle had entered flood waters and could be swept away.
The first rescue vehicle could not get through, police told the court.
The second took a long trip around the problem area to reach Murray's car, an almost new BMW X5 station wagon, which was "written off" in the incident, costing Murray an insurance claim and $1300 excess.
Murray said he had spent the previous night worrying, after a family health emergency requiring an ambulance.
The incident had left him stressed, anxious about a family member and sleepless.
"When you get those three things together, you make bad decisions," he said.
"I've copped a fair amount of humiliation and ridicule from my colleagues for making such a stupid decision," he said.
Magistrate Chris Callaghan did not seem to doubt it.
"It was, as you say, stupid and you've suffered ridicule," he told Murray.
"I don't think deterrence for you is high on the sentencing agenda, but deterrence for others is," he said.
He fined Murray $500, with three demerit points and no conviction recorded.