Craig Raabe
Craig Raabe

WA Coroner to examine Gympie man's death

CHATSWORTH father Steve Raabe has had to face powerful adversaries in his time, first as a Vietnam veteran and now as an ordinary Australian seeking justice for his dead son, Craig Raabe.

At last, it appears his son's death will be investigated further. Mr Raabe's seven-year struggle to achieve this has involved conflict with a range of opponents right up to the Western Australian Supreme Court.

Fortescue Metals Group lost its bid in 2010 to avoid a trial over the deaths of two workers.

One of them was Craig, 42, of Tandur.

Craig Raabe died in 2007 from injuries he received when category five Cyclone George slammed into a Fortescue rail camp he was sheltering in.

The cyclone's 275kmh winds flattened the area, raising still unanswered questions about the adequacy of the buildings. The storm was officially rated the most violent to strike the Pilbara in 30 years.

Fortescue and several contractors pleaded not guilty in December 2008 to a range of charges, including failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace.

Although acquitted in 2009, a Perth judge overturned the decision after a Supreme Court appeal.

But questions remain about whether the donga in which Craig Raabe took shelter was up to required cyclone standards; whether the council checked it properly; and whether miners and support workers should have been evacuated.

Craig and Perth mother Debra Till died from their injuries, and dozens more maimed and hurt, when the cyclone blew away the donga in which they were sheltering.

Now, at last, Steve has been advised that Coroner Ros Fogliani will hold an inquest into the two deaths.

Her inquiry will examine the East Pilbara council's role in administering a building licence, approving the donga, the role of the building surveyor and the design process for the tie-down dongas.

Gympie Times


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