EXCLUSIVE: Inside the chilling response to a man and a baby girl who plunged 36 metres to their deaths from Whispering Wall dam – as shocked witness describes the pair’s tragic final moments
- Emergency crews were called to the Whispering Wall at 4.30 on Wednesday
- Witnesses raised the alarm after seeing a man and a baby fall over the edge
- The man was dead when paramedics found him, and the baby was unresponsive
- Paramedics tried to revive the baby girl but she sadly died at the scene
- The alarm was raised at 4.30pm, when the SAAS sent out its first ambulance
- The callout was listed as ‘psychiatric’ on an emergency services scanner
What appeared to begin as a routine mental illness incident quickly descended into a rescue mission and then desperate resuscitation after a man and a baby girl plunged to their deaths from a 36-metre dam in South Australia.
The first paramedics called to the Whispering Wall dam in the Barossa Valley, an hour north of Adelaide, thought they were there to lend psychiatric help.
But a chilling dispatch log uncovered by Daily Mail Australia has revealed the chaotic moments that unfolded as ambulances, police crews and rescue teams raced to the tourist spot on Wednesday and discovered the horror that had just unfolded.
Shocked witnesses first raised the alarm at 4.30pm, with SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) sending a unit based at the nearby Hamley Bridge station to the dam.
The callout was listed as ‘psychiatric’ on an emergency services scanner; a term used for an incident involving mental illness or a suicide attempt.
A man and baby girl tragically plunged to their deaths from the ‘Whispering Wall’ dam
The man (not pictured) was already dead when emergency services found him at the bottom of the wall after 4.30pm. Paramedics tried to revive the baby but she also died at the scene
Timeline of emergency response
4:30pm – Ambulance from Hamley Bridge station is sent out to respond to a ‘psychiatric’ incident
4:32pm – SA Ambulance Service send out another unit from Hamley Bridge for an ’emergency’ callout
4:32pm – Dispatch send out another unit from Playford ambulance station – which is closer to the dam – for the same ’emergency’
4:32pm – A third ambulance is sent from nearby Oakden station
4:36pm – An urgent call is made for a MEDSTAR (Medical Shock Trauma/Acute Resuscitation) helicopter
4:40pm – Call placed to the SAAS Special Operations Team – a team of highly-trained rescue paramedics.
4.42pm – Emergency crews request permission for the helicopter to land
4.48pm – Mission changes to a body retrieval
Two minutes later, a call for help was placed to teams from the Playford and Oakden ambulance stations for an ’emergency’ situation that was unfolding.
Things escalated as units arrived at the dam, with the MEDSTAR (Medical Shock Trauma/Acute Resuscitation) helicopter sent at 4.36pm.
Just minutes after that team was called, emergency services sent out its Special Operations Team – a crew of paramedics who specialise in high-risk search and rescue procedures usually involving water and cliff rescues.
The man was already dead when emergency services found him at the bottom of the wall shortly after 4.30pm.
The baby was unresponsive and despite the best efforts of paramedics to revive her, she died at the scene.
By 4.48pm the mission had changed to a body retrieval.
One mother, who claims she was at the popular lookout with her children, took to social media to describe the horror she witnessed.
‘So painful having to see what happened with my babies,’ she said.
The incident has sparked widespread debate amongst locals that the tragedy wasn’t an accident due to the height of the railing at the dam, which would make it difficult for an adult to fall over without climbing first.
Police said they are not seeking anyone else in relation to the deaths at this stage.
Detectives from Barossa CIB, forensic investigators and the Major Crime Branch remained on the scene on Wednesday evening looking into what caused the tragedy.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
A chilling dispatch log (above) shows how the first team of paramedics from Hamley Bridge station were sent to a suspected psychiatric incident
As more crews arrived the mission changed to a rescue mission and then body retrieval
The Whispering Wall is the retaining wall of the Barossa Reservoir, and in recent years has become a tourist attraction for carrying sound from one side to the other.
‘What draws visitors to the Whispering Wall is its unique acoustic effects: words whispered at one side can be clearly heard at the other, more than 100 metres away. Children in particular love visiting the wall and testing its abilities,’ the Barossa website says.
‘Children in particular love visiting the wall and testing its abilities.’
Built between 1899 and 1903, the dam was a revolutionary engineering feat for its day and has attracted tourists from all over the world.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing mental health issues contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
The Whispering Wall is the retaining wall of the Barossa Reservoir, and in recent years has become a tourist attraction for carrying sound from one side to the other