A camping weekend away with the boys has ended in tragic circumstances for the family of a fit and healthy young father.
A camping weekend away with the boys has ended in tragic circumstances after a fit and healthy young father dislocated his shoulder swimming across a swollen river – and was found dead four days later.
Dean Gray, 25, his younger brother and some of their closest mates banded together for the weekend away on a property along the Namoi River near Narrabri, about 500km northwest of Sydney, on October 16.
What should have been a holiday of with campfires, snags on the barbecue and good times took a tragic twist when the coal miner was swimming 50m across the powerful river.
Katt Armour, a close family friend, said his mates knew he was hurt by the time he got to the other side. They told him not to try and cross the river again, while they looked for help.
But when they returned, he was gone.
Police launched a large land, air and water search of the surrounding areas, along with the help of a number of friends who raced to the town to help.
Two days after he vanished, Dean’s fiancée Taylor Baxter wrote a heartfelt plea on Facebook.
“I’m praying that today’s the day,” she said.
“My heart can’t take anymore – Dean, I need you to come home. I need you to come and do life with me.
“If anyone has any time to come help search, that would be greatly appreciated.”
However, the search ended two days later when Dean’s body was found at about 9.40am last Wednesday by a volunteer assisting with the search.
“The body was recovered by police divers with the assistance of Western Region Police Rescue a short time later,” NSW Police said in a statement.
The family are waiting for autopsy results, but Ms Armour said Dean’s death appeared to be a “tragic accident”.
She told the Daily Mail Australia it appears Dean dislocated his shoulder during his initial swim across the river, before he tried to swim – but drowned in the process.
She and another friend, Karla Anderson, set up a Go Fund Me campaign to help Taylor and her two-year-old child, Boston.
“This has been an exceptionally hard week for everyone but especially for Taylor and the family,” she wrote on the page.
“Extending gratitude and an unbelievable amount of thanks to those involved in searching, supporting, sharing his story and sending messages from a far to help bring him home.”
The page has raised more than $25,000 so far.
“We would like to help them financially in anyway that we can, we have decided to set up a GoFundMe in hopes that this can assist with whatever financial difficulties are coming their way through the hard time including funeral arrangements and other financial issues that may impact them,” Ms Katt wrote.
“Hoping this can ease the stress for the young family on top of such a tragic loss. Dean was a special guy to all of us and we want him to know we are looking after his family.”