‘He just sank away’: Mate tells of waterfall tragedy

 

THE best mate of the man drowned at Millstream Creek on Saturday has paid tribute to a careful and compassionate friend and told of the events that led to the 61-year-old's death.

The man pulled from the waters of Millstream Creek on Sunday after a two-day search has been identified as Millstream resident Adrian Hicks.

Adrian Hicks was drowned at Army Pools in the Millstream Creek, southeast of Ravenshoe on Saturday.
Adrian Hicks was drowned at Army Pools in the Millstream Creek, southeast of Ravenshoe on Saturday.

Friend Will Walker said he was enjoying the popular Army Pools swimming hole with his family and Mr Hicks on Saturday when tragedy struck.

"We jumped off a waterhole cliff, like you do, and he was at the steps where you get out wiping the water off his face and he was just taking way too long to get out," he said.

"I was starting to get worried so jumped in after him. I got to him and put my arm around him but I couldn't hold him.

"Just as I was able to (get) a hold on the rocks and reach out and grab him, he just sank away.

"I think he had some sort of medical episode or maybe he swallowed some water and choked."

Will Walker (right) pays tribute to his best mate Adrian Hicks (left) who was drowned in Millstream Creek on Saturday.
Will Walker (right) pays tribute to his best mate Adrian Hicks (left) who was drowned in Millstream Creek on Saturday.

Mr Walker admitted the water levels at Millstream Creek were up but he didn't feel swimming in the creek was foolhardy.

"Sure there was a risk, but it was a calculated one. There was something else going on that day," he said.

"I don't know what happened to Adrian but it was not a wild rapid that took him away."

A heartbreaking drive back into Ravenshoe to raise the alarm was something Mr Walker will never forget.

"It was hard, a really hard thing to do," he said.

"I didn't have my phone on me. I didn't want to leave the scene but had to."

A swiftwater rescue team searches for a missing 61-year-old man at Little Millstream Falls, 3.5km south-west of Ravenshoe. Picture: PETER CARRUTHERS
A swiftwater rescue team searches for a missing 61-year-old man at Little Millstream Falls, 3.5km south-west of Ravenshoe. Picture: PETER CARRUTHERS

Mr Hicks grew up on South Australia's Yorke Peninsula and made the move north to the Atherton Tablelands five years ago.

Mr Walker remembered his mate as a gentle, considerate and cautious man.

"He was always willing to lend a hand, he was just a magnificent man," he said.

Mr Hicks' niece Naomi Hicks said traditional owners of the Ravenshoe area would be consulted in regard to funeral services.