'TRAGIC': Police divers pull teen driver, car from river
IN DARKNESS, police divers last night completed the difficult task of searching the water for a teenage driver who plunged a car into the Richmond River at South Ballina.
The divers arrived from Sydney just after 5pm and went straight to the scene on River Drive.
A crane arrived shortly afterwards.
Floodlights were set up on the riverbank to help the crews complete their task.
Police this morning confirmed the driver was deceased.
It is understood the car was travelling southbound along River Drive when it went into the river.
A passenger was able to get out of the vehicle and informed paramedics that a second person, a 17-year-old driver, had not surfaced after the crash.
Richmond Police District acting Inspector Anthony Smith confirmed the driver was still trapped in the car. He would not confirm the age or gender of the driver.
Police are also appealing for the driver of a second vehicle believed to have been travelling near where the car went into the river.
Richmond Police District acting Inspector Anthony Smith said initial investigations suggested another vehicle might have been driving along River Drive around the same time the incident occurred.
"We believe there could be another witness to the accident and obviously we would encourage the driver or anyone who saw the accident to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000," acting insp Smith said.
The vehicle, which plunged into the Richmond River around 11.45am, was located more than an hour after emergency crews arrived on scene.
Police are also commending several people who tried to free the driver from the water.
Acting Insp Smith said the female passenger who was able to escape the sinking vehicle also tried to help the driver but was unable to get to them safely.
"From early information, someone has found the passenger and then the emergency services were called from there," he said.
A crew from Marine Rescue Ballina has responded to reports of a vehicle crashing into the Richmond River near the Burns Point ferry at South Ballina. The rescue crew used their vessel's sonar equipment to help locate the car in 4.3m of water. Emergency services remain on scene. pic.twitter.com/FRvdij0qsp— Marine Rescue NSW (@MarineRescueNSW) July 7, 2020
"(The passenger) was shaken but unharmed, was assessed by the ambulance.
"There's a number of people who actually went into the water, but the vehicle is located at least 6m below the surface, so it's a long way down.
"A number of people went into the water and were diving, including three police."
Acting Insp Smith said the "tragic" incident was a reminder for people to always drive to the conditions of the road.
Northern NSW Helicopter Rescue Service spokesperson Glen Ramplin said emergency personnel had done everything possible.
"It is not looking good," he said.
"One person is unaccounted for."
Several eye witnesses on scene at the time of the incident tried to reach the driver by diving into the water but were unable to reach them.