FRIDAY December, 20
Two volunteer firefighters were killed and three others have been injured in “the worst imaginable set of circumstances” when their truck rolled after being hit by a tree in Sydney’s south-west.
Young fathers, Geoffrey Keaton, 32 and Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, were travelling in a New South Wales Rural Fire Services (RFS) convoy to battle blazes at 11:30pm last night.
RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said the truck had rolled on Wilson Drive, Buxton, killing the pair and injuring three passengers who were taken to Liverpool Hospital.
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons spent the evening with the families of those killed, while NSW Premier Glads Berejiklian said the state had lost “two heroes.”
The three injured firefighters are stable but in deep shock after what they witnessed last night.
The incident occurred on the front line of the Green Wattle Creek fire, which is still burning at emergency level.
A crime scene has been established with an investigation launched into the circumstances surrounding the crash.
Falling trees have been a constant problem across the fireground this season with a number of RFS tankers being damaged.
The firefighters were from the Horsley Park brigade in Western Sydney, which Deputy Commissioner Rogers said was a very tight-knit group.
“This is going to impact significantly on that brigade,” he said.
“This is an absolutely devastating event in what has already been an incredibly difficult day and fire season,” an RFS statement said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a statement this morning saying he would be returning to Sydney as soon as possible given the tragic event.
He expressed “deep regret” for any offence caused by taking leave with his family over the past week.
The incident came at the end of a dangerous day of fires and heatwave conditions across Greater Sydney, with at least 20 properties destroyed.
Geoffrey Keaton’s family has long been involved in the RFS and his father was also volunteering yesterday to fight the Gospers Mountain fire.
Geoffrey’s son, Harvey and Andrew O’Dwyer’s daughters, Charlotte, are both 19 months, born just days apart.
Commissioner Fitzsimmons said their families were in “extraordinary shock” and the Horsley Park brigade was at a loss.
“This is the worst imaginable set of circumstances…both of these men were very well-respected…they’re a very community-focused brigade, they work together, socialise together,” he said.
JK Rowling is facing widespread criticism from the transgender community and other activists after tweeting support for a researcher who lost her job for stating that people cannot change their biological sex.
Researcher, Maya Forester, was sacked from the Centre for Global Development, an international think-tank, after tweeting her opposition to a British Government proposal that would make it easier for transgender people to change their legal sex.
The centre declined to renew her contract in March this year.
A London judge this week upheld her dismissal, finding that:
““[Forstater] is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”
On Thursday, Rowling tweeted her response: “Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”
She added the now trending hashtag #IStandWithMaya and #ThisIsNotADrill.
JK Rowling is known for her liberal political views and many on Twitter labelled her a TERF (Trans Exclusive Radical Feminist).
Those criticising her included the Human Rights Campaign, which tweeted: “Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary. CC: JK Rowling.”
A spokeswoman for Rowling has said she would not have any further comment.
Tensions have boiled over in a Melbourne courtroom moments after the teenager who fatally stabbed university student Laa Chol in the chest at a party was jailed for 20 years.
Screams were heard from the Supreme Court this morning and a woman was walked out by police officers with her hands behind her back.
The commotion broke out minutes after the 18-year-old was sentence to 20 years with a non-parole period of 15 years for the murder of Victoria University Sydney in 2018.
At the time of the attack, the 17-year-old boy gatecrashed a party at the CBD’s EQ apartment toward where Ms Chol kicked the intruders out after noticing her mobile phone was missing.
The violence attacked ensued, where Ms Chol was fatally stabbed in the chest in the building’s lift lobby.
“Your senseless and vicious crime has deprived her of the most basic right, the right to life,” Justice Stephen Kaye told the teenager.
The teenager who cannot be named because he was underage at the time, went to trial arguing he did not intend serious harm.
The jury did not believe his claims and in September convicted him or murder.
After the attack, her friends initially thought she was having an asthma attack, but Ms Chol’s heart had been pierced by the knife.
She was dead by the time paramedics arrived and the knife has never been found.
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