LAKE Canobolas provided a haunting backdrop for Friday’s commemorative service to honour German tourist Arvid Stenzel who drowned at the site five months ago.
A small group of police, State Emergency Service (SES) and Rural Fire Service members and council staff including mayor John Davis and councillor Ron Gander, met at the lake’s edge to unveil a bench seat and plaque dedicated to Mr Stenzel and talk about the young man’s life and death and how his death had impacted the people of Orange.
Orange City Council spokesperson Allan Reeder, who oversaw proceedings, said the “quiet day of reflection” was appropriate not only for those who gathered yesterday but for Mr Stenzel’s family who will be sent pictures from Friday’s event and a letter from Cr Davis.
Mr Reeder said Mr Stenzel’s family must be trying to understand how a young man’s adventure to Australia, turned to tragedy.
Council development services director David Waddell said the day was also a chance to think about all the tough days endured by the men and women involved in the recovery of Mr Stenzel’s body.
“I’ve got children, and I think this made us all reflect on how lucky we are,” Mr Waddell said.
Cr Davis thanked emergency services and council staff, saying it was a “horrendous thing to be put through”.
Canobolas Local Area Command duty officer Dave Harvey said the retrieval mission was hard because it was so protracted.
“Something like this is always difficult, but it was completed with professionalism.”
SES chaplin Ron Murray said he’d spent time with Mr Stenzel’s travelling companions who battled to comprehend his death.
“His friend from Germany was doing it really tough,” Mr Murray said.
This was the third time Mr Murray had been involved in the recovery of a body from a dam or lake in the region, in the past three years and it doesn’t get any easier.
“It’s so sad that such a young man in the prime of enjoying his life, meets with such tragedy in such a beautiful spot,” Mr Murray said.
“How do you help a wife that’s seen her husband go into the water and never come out, or go fishing and never come back.”
Mr Waddell said this is the third death at the lake in the last 25 years.