Northern Rivers man Damien Roadley has been reported missing after he went camping at Blue Knob, near Nimbin.
Northern Rivers man Damien Roadley has been reported missing after he went camping at Blue Knob, near Nimbin.

Family ask why police stopped searching for Damien so soon

THE family of Damien Roadley, who was found deceased on Saturday after a 10- day search at Blue Knob Mountain, have questioned why police stopped searching for him after only two days. 

While praising the community effort in finding Mr Roadley, they called for a review into how emergency services respond to remote searches in future.  

The statement reads:

Damien was a devoted father to Allirah, Hunter, and Jett. He was a cheeky son to Laurie and Marion, brother to Kim, and former partner to Moon. He was a beloved friend to too many people to mention, though they all know who they are. Though not a saint, Damien was an independent and curious soul, and the world was brighter for him being in it. His passing has devastated us all.

As a family, we would like to thank the community both in Nimbin and further afield for your tireless support, be it through simple wishes and prayers, through donations of resources and money, and most significantly through direct involvement in the search, whether on foot, by coordinating others, or providing meals. Your skills, dedication, and ability to work as a cohesive team are the only reasons Damien was able to be located, and there are no words to describe how grateful we are to each and every one of you.

We would like to acknowledge the efforts of local volunteer organisations, including the SES and VRA. We understand the difficulty that this terrain and task presented, and appreciate your involvement.

We would also like to draw attention to the police efforts. Whilst the initial response was swift, we have a number of issues with the ongoing response.

These include:

  • Promising resources that were never delivered, such as stating on Friday August 3 that the search dogs were to be deployed Sunday 5, but not bringing them out until Thursday 9.
  • Calling off the search on Friday 3, only two days into the critical 72 hour period, citing lack of resources. 
  • Returning to the search only on Thursday 9, following media involvement.
  • Poor liaison and coordination with community members, who had been searching in teams every day since Damien was first reported missing.

We must note that the response in the second search was more involved, and communication from agencies to the community improved as the search continued. For this, we are grateful.

We hope that the emergency services involved will review their roles in the context of wilderness searches to improve their involvement in future emergencies of a similar nature.

Finally, we thank the search team who actually found Damien, all of whom are volunteers from the community and beyond. Our thoughts are with you all.

NSW Police Media were contacted for comment, but a spokesman said: "As a report is being made for information of the Coroner, it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage".