Lower Murrumbidgee News
The Sydney Morning Herald
9 September 1846
A most melancholy duty devolves upon me this week, in having to report the death, by drowning, of a gentleman named Crispe, a grazier, late resident in the neighbourhood of Gundagai, and whose untimely fate was consummated under most distressing circumstances.
On Thursday, the 27th ultimo, a shepherd in the employment of the deceased gentleman, in extricating a sheep from a perilous position on the bank of the river, and beneath a steep bank, was by some accidental circumstance forced into the water, and the stream over powering all his efforts to reach the shore, he was hurried into the middle of the river, where he fortunately grasped a limb of a sunken tree, and found floating on the trunk, on which he supported himself until aid arrived.
Mr. Crispe was quickly on the spot, and endeavoured to render assistance to his servant in a small canoe, but the torrent was too strong for so frail a thing. In full confidence of his abilities as a swimmer, and earnestly bent on his work of humanity, he stripped and plunged in with a rope, which was held by those on the bank.
Swimming with one hand, and with the other drawing the rope, he succeeded in reaching the tree which had been the means of preserving the shepherd.
Here he grasped a limb to rest and collect himself awhile, ere he completed his errand of mercy; but alas, he who came to save, was himself doomed to suffer: the treacherous branch gave way, and by the suddenly exerted power of the current, the unfortunate gentleman was borne rapidly down the stream a short distance, when suddenly throwing his hands upwards to his head, and without a groan or cry for aid, he sank, never on this side eternity to rise again.
Whether the rope was forced from his hold at the moment the limb gave way, or whether a sudden collapse of the frame caused it to fall from his grasp, none may know; but he certainly lost the power of retaining it, and the rope was hauled on shore by the by-standers.
Mr. Crispe was in the very prime of life, and on the point of forming a matrimonial connexion; a circumstance which renders the sequel of his death doubly distressing.
His fate has thrown a gloom over our feelings, and his loss has caused a distressing blank in our small and circumscribed social circle. He is universally regretted by all classes.
On information of the melancholy catastrophe reaching Gundagai, numbers flocked to the scene of the disaster; but, alas, they came only to swell the general sound.- he whom they would have aided was far beyond the reach of human help.
Mr. Charles Simpson, innkeeper, of Gundagai, got his boat to the spot within an hour of the accident, and attempted to recover the body with a drag, but it fouled so much in the sunken timber, that after about two hours the attempt was abandoned.
He removed from the log the man who had been the innocent cause of this distressing event.
On his return to Gundagai, Mr. Simpson, in the exercise of a feeling which does him infinite credit, and for which the friends of Mr. Crispe will ever thank him, offered £5 for the recovery of the body, and directed a couple of harpoons to be made.
On Friday morning, the 28th, he got his boat to the spot once more, and a couple of men commenced throwing the barbed irons into the river; after about two hours they succeeded in piercing the body, and it was taken into the boat.
It was then conveyed to Mr. Simpson's house in Gundagai, where an inquisition was held, and the result arrived at was, that Mr. Crispe had been drowned in consequence of being seized with cramp.
The frequent recurrence of accidents in this dangerous and rapid river, points out the necessity for every establishment having a boat attached to it.
Although perhaps in this particular instance it would not have prevented the fatal catastrophe, as Mr. Crispe could have had Mr. Simpson's boat by asking for it; still there are frequent and urgent calls for such a thing, particularly in times of flood, and no station should be without one.
It is now raining heavily, and an immense quantity of water has fallen within the last week. We look for the river being very high.
Lambing has commenced; but from the dry autumn and severe winter, it is feared the present dropping will scarce be an average one. The fleece promises to be heavy this season.
The young wheat, though backward, looks healthy, and as the frosts appear to be breaking up, we may yet expect a crop.