Tragedy Strikes Water Sports After Water Skiing Race Gets Canceled Due to a Sixth Death in Past 18 Years

Published 02/11/2024, 7:04 AM EST

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The annual Murray river water skiing took a dark turn when a fatal accident claimed the life of Luke Wentworth. The 40-year-old man was involved in a crash during the annual Southern 80 race and succumbed to his injuries. Paramedics rushed to provide medical assistance, but he was declared dead at the scene.

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The incident is now the sixth instance of a competing person losing their life in the water ski race, over 18 years. The sudden and brutal death has sent shockwaves across the entire community. He was a respected individual in the community, and tributes poured in for the man.

Water skiing event claims yet another life

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Luke Wentworth, racing for team Gassa, was all ready to kick off proceedings and sail on the water. The unfortunate crash took place when he was water skiing behind a speedboat. It made a sudden turn into a sharp corner, which led him to crash into a tree only an hour into the race.

People rushed in from both sides of the Murray river to come to his aid. There was nothing paramedics could do, as the injuries were far too fatal. People eagerly waited for the speedboats to arrive at the bend, unaware of the accident.

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“Sitting on the bank and a boat hadn’t come past for a while,” Madison Collins told the media. “And then we got a call, and we heard that one of the boats had crashed.”
Authorities expressed their grief over the loss of Luke’s life and called it an “absolute tragedy.” They will now scramble to understand the events leading up to the fatal crash and investigate.
Steve Shipp, the Moana Water Sports Club president too released a statement after the accident. They immediately suspended the race and the water skiing event stands cancelled. The statement said, “As a ski racing family, we are here to support the affected family and team members as well the wider ski racing community in this terribly sad time.”
While the community comes to grips with the latest tragedy, another concerning matter is that there have been 5 deaths before in water sports.

The deadly history of Southern 80

The annual Southern 80 water skiing race is an event with great history and importance to the people. The race starts from Torrumbarry to Echuca, where the river has more than 120 bends. Although it is widely followed, with participants coming in from the UK, USA and New Zealand, there have been multiple fatal incidents.
Such accidents can be traced back to 1987 when Ashley French died at the event. Then there was David Porotto who died in 2006, reportedly at a hairpin turn.
Just one year later, a fatal collision between two boats claimed the life of a 22 year old Craig O’Toole.
Three years later, in 2010, a Victorian man, Tim Driver died after crashing into another competitor during the race. As per reports, CPR was administered by a nurse but to no avail. Meanwhile the other competitor suffered a ‘dislocated shoulder and broken collar bone’.

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After six years, a crash into the water claimed the life of a Sydney waterskiier, Kevin Vahtrik. Only a year later, David Morabito died in what was describer as a “freak accident,” when the 50 year old’s boat completely flipped during the event.
Luke’s death was the latest in a long list of tragedies and one has to wonder, what happens to the event now? With so many lives claimed, the event has drawn attention over the years with many rightfully raising concerns.

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Written by:

Allen James

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One take at a time

Hey folks! I am Allen James, and I am proudly holding court as the maestro of Viral Sports! Armed with a degree in Mass Communication, and a specialization in Journalism, my journey has been nothing short of a love story with sports. From epic showdowns that set the world on fire to heart-wrenching farewells that left us all misty-eyed, my pen has danced through the most electrifying moments. But what gets my heart racing at VSM? It?s the sheer diversity of options, a playground where no single area is off-limits! With dreams of conquering the world of sports broadcasting, I?m on a quest to explore every nook and cranny.
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Edited by:

Rohan Karnad

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