Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 48, September 2004

The Waihi Telegraph dated 3 January, 1943 carried a report of a tragic drowning in the Waitawheta Stream on the previous Sunday, of fifteen year old Gordon Charlton Murdoch, son of Mrs E Murdoch of Waikino.

Gordon had gone with his brother, Bruce and five others to spend a day at Dickey's Flat. On arrival at the river at about noon, Gordon and Bruce, with Kenneth and Stanley Brown, Leslie Cooper and Jack Bennie went in for a swim, while Eric Mead, an employee at Akrad Radio Corporation, sat on the bank and watched. Gordon, Bruce and Jack went upstream from the pool as there was a dead goat in a nearby creek running from the bush. Upstream the water was running faster and Gordon, and Jack went to the head of the rapids and started to swim across the pool. Jack got across the stream but Gordon got into difficulties and called for help. As Eric watched, he saw Leslie, Stan and Bruce dive to his assistance. Although the three managed to reach Gordon and attempt to bring him to safety, he struggled with his rescuers and unfortunately they lost hold of him and he disappeared under the water. Stan and Bruce dived in an attempt to find Gordon while Leslie reached the bank exhausted from his efforts.

Eric ran about 1½ miles for help from some men who were haymaking, one of whom went to telephone for the police while the other, Mr Jack Mason, went to the river. The body was recovered from the river by Mr Mason, assisted by a Mr Rackham and artificial respiration was tried for about half an hour. Dr M Wagstaff examined the body and certified that death had occurred from drowning.

The Coroner, Mr W M Wallnutt, in his report published in the Waihi Telegraph on 9 January 1943, commented that Gordon's friends deserved "every commendation for their gallant and courageous efforts made at the risk of their own lives to rescue their unfortunate comrade." He also commended Eric Mead who "ran to give the alarm", Messrs J Mason and Rackham "for their assistance in this lamentable tragedy" and expressed "a word of appreciation of the help given to the stricken family by Sergeant Bisset, who also made a difficult journey with the ambulance in bringing the body to the Waihi morgue".