Stan Betts has spoken up about his role in an incident at the Gympie pool almost 50 years after the event.
Stan Betts has spoken up about his role in an incident at the Gympie pool almost 50 years after the event. Contributed

Blamed for near drowning, man speaks up 50 years later

THE GYMPIE Memorial pool's impending closure represents the end on an era for some people - but for Stan Betts, it offered the chance to clear the air over an incident which has weighed on his heart for almost 50 years.

Mr Betts, 62, said he was involved in the near drowning of a young girl when he was 13 years old, but what he said happened differs from what was reported in The Gympie Times when it happened.

"At the time I went 'ah well, I know that's not true,'" he said of reading the article at the time, which blamed him for bomb diving near the girl and almost causing her death.

But seeing the recent article on the pool's impending closure, he reached out to The Gympie Times on social media.

"I thought 'Nah, I've been living with this all my life. I'll rectify a few things here or just get my side across and just leave it at that'."

At the time, Mr Betts said he had been diving into the pool with another boy before everything unfolded.

"When I was standing behind waiting for him to go, this little girl swimming down the shallow end was struggling."

According to Mr Betts, seeing the girl was already struggling, the boy deliberately jumped into the pool next to her.

The splash sent the girl underwater, and seeing the serious problem happening before his eyes, Mr Betts made the decision to jump in and try to save her.

Grabbing her around the chest and neck, he swam with her to the edge of the pool where he was met by other help.

"I got to the edge of the pool and two younger girls come running down and assisted me."

His desire to continue helping rebuffed by others, he said, seeing she would be all right he walked off content with his actions.

It all changed soon after, though.

"When I come to read the paper that week, here's the story about them criticising me who dove off and bomb dived and after I brought her into the edge of the pool," he said.

"At the time I was gobsmacked. I got turned off a bit of life in going to the pool... I just didn't want to do it any more."

He moved to Brisbane two years later, but said the event had had a lasting effect, with one psychologist he had seen saying it had obviously played a huge role in his life.

While he knew it was too late to change anything, Mr Betts said he was grateful to finally have his voice heard about the incident.

Gympie Times

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