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Tragic drowning: Weipa mourns death of crew leader

Published on 12th April 2017

Described by his friends as a man with a heart of gold, Weipa has spent the past week mourning the death of Dave Arkinstall.

Affectionately known as “Dodgy”, Mr Arkinstall was killed at popular swimming hotspot Six Tunnels in Rocky Point last Monday night.

Police said he was sucked into a smaller pipe and could not free himself and drowned to death.

Sergeant Megan Hall said the death was not suspicious.

“It was just a tragic accident. He was there with friends and got sucked into the pipe. There was nothing anyone could do,” she said.

A much-loved crew leader with Rio Tinto, Weipa operations general manager Dan van der Westhuizen said he would be missed.

“Earlier this week we received some very sad news that our valued colleague Dave Arkinstall had passed away,” he wrote in an internal memo.

“Many of you will know Dave, with his valued contribution extending beyond his role as crew leader of the land and rehabilitation team. Dave’s character was larger than life, with no task too small or impossible to achieve. 

"He was dedicated and hardworking, with his passion infectious among his team and broader colleagues. It was clear that he thrived on the Cape’s lifestyle.”

Tributes flow as Weipa mourns a terrific bloke

DAVE Arkinstall loved nothing more than packing up his four-wheel drive and spending his days off at Princess Charlotte Bay.
His partner of four years, Lowana Fox, said it was his home away from home.

She still can’t get over his shock death last week.

A man who loved the great outdoors, Dave was described by his friends as being “very safe” and “aware of his surroundings”.

Lowana said it would take a long time to get over. They met in Weipa and both work for Rio Tinto.

Dave not only left behind his loving partner, but also his 13-year-old daughter Krysta, who lives at Bundaberg.

He fell in love with Weipa over 10 years ago while working on a trawler.

“They docked at Weipa and Dave said ‘I love this place’,” Lowana explained.

“So he told his mum he was making the move north from Redcliffe. He’s been here since.”

A fan of the Cape York lifestyle, Dave loved his fishing and camping.

He also liked to hunt the odd wild pig. Lowana said the team at Rio Tinto in Weipa had been nothing but supportive since his death.

“They’ve been terrific. No task has been too much. They are helping transport colleagues and friends to the funeral,” she said.

Lowana said she didn’t want a witch hunt to start about the cause of Dave’s death.

Rio Tinto has since made safety improvements at the Six Tunnels site, but she said it was just an accident.

“No one is to blame. It was just a tragic accident,” she said.

“If they could make it so there’s mesh over the pipes or something so no one could ever experience a tragedy like that again, then that would be good.

Rio Tinto Weipa operations general manager Dan van der Westhuizen said the tragedy should be used as a reminder.

“This tragic accident is a solemn reminder that life is precious and an opportunity to reflect,” he said.

“Many teams and individuals will be impacted by this sad news, and we will need to pull together to support ourselves and our colleagues.”