Abseiling teacher dies in front of students


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High school students are being counselled after an abseiling instructor plunged to his death in front of them at a popular Western Australian tourist spot.

The teacher has been named in multiple media reports as 53-year-old Marcello Silveira.

He is believed to have slipped and fallen in a tragic accident during an abseiling excursion with year 11 students and staff from Perth’s Newman College to Brides Cave in Boranup, near Margaret River, on Thursday.

Police say the group of 15 students had already abseiled to the bottom of the cave area on Thursday afternoon when the instructor fell.

First aid was provided until a rescue helicopter paramedic was lowered into the cave and took over but Mr Silveira died at the scene.

His colleagues and emergency service volunteers assisted with the recovery of the instructor, students and teachers from the bottom of the cave.

“It was really evident that we needed to get the kids out as quick as we could just to limit the exposure that they had,” Sergeant Simone Taplin said on Friday.

“Their welfare was primary for us to ensure that they weren’t traumatised any further, so we managed to get them out of the cave very quickly.

“We had a counsellor on the scene. We spoke to them in detail about the incident and explained what had occurred and provided them with support measures.

“I think the children were in shock and the complexity of what happened had probably not landed.”

Sergeant Taplin said Mr Silveira had a young family and was a well-known and respected community member with more than 25 years of abseiling experience.

She described it as an unfortunate accident but declined to go into detail on how it occurred, saying a report would be provided for the coroner.

WorkSafe officers were on the scene on Friday.

Newman College acting principal Lucie McCrory said the students had been involved in an outdoor education camp.

She extended her condolences to Mr Silveira’s loved ones on behalf of the school.

“The college has deployed all necessary resources to support the wellbeing and pastoral care of students and staff who have been impacted by this tragic incident. They arrived home late last night,” she said in a statement.

“Police have praised the conduct of our staff and students and their response to the emergency services.

“The college will provide such assistance as is necessary to the relevant authorities as they investigate this incident.”

Adam Marr, chief executive for peak outdoor activities group Outdoors WA, said Mr Silveira had been a “well-respected” and “highly-experienced industry professional”.

“Our sincere condolences go out to the instructor’s family, friends, everyone present when this accident happened, and the local community,” he told Perth Now.

“The impact of this fatality is felt across the whole outdoors sector here in Western Australia.

“We will wait for and support the authorities to complete their investigations before we are in a position to comment further.”

-with AAP

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