Tributes for 'gentle giant' Kyle Baumann after tragedy
THE waterhole at Kiamba where a young man drowned on Sunday is popular with locals looking to cool off.
It is also notoriously dangerous after heavy rain.
Normally, the small creek which feeds the hole is a gentle stream which flows over and around large rocks, cascading down a series of small waterholes on its way to Wappa Dam.
On Sunday, when 20-year-old Kyle Baumann drowned, it was swollen by rain and thousands of litres of water was pouring over the small waterfall above the hole.
The pool of water, just off Image Flat Rd, is only a few metres across and surrounded by steep rocks.
Locals say the water is deep and a ledge about 10 metres above it provides a perfect jumping platform.
It's reasonably safe when the water flow is slow but the uneven rocks close to the edge are covered in moss and perilously slippery.
Kyle slipped into the deep water while swimming with friends about noon.
Two of them reportedly put their own lives at risk by jumping into the pool in an effort to save him.
But they couldn't help the young Nambour student, who was described in tributes as a "gentle giant".
The waterhole is popular with locals, who say its reputation is well known.
Gemma Noy, who lived just around the corner from the creek for 21 years, said she was rarely allowed to go there as a girl because it was notoriously unsafe.
"It was well-known as a dangerous place," she said.
"When we were growing up, it was not somewhere we were allowed to go because there were lots of accidents there.
"You'd hear about something happening at least every month."
Just 24 hours after Sunday's tragedy, water was still pounding into the waterhole but there were few signs anything had ever happened.
A single bunch of flowers paid tribute to Kyle Baumann's life.
There are no signs warning the area is dangerous but it was easy to see how someone could get into trouble if they fell into the hole, as Kyle did.
One man who had an eerily similar accident in the same waterhole 15 years ago said he could understand how the tragedy could have happened.
The man, who did not want his name used, was at the waterhole with friends after heavy rain.
The water was pounding into the hole and, just like Kyle, he slipped and fell in.
"My first thought was that I'd just tread water and then climb back out," he said.
"But the water pressure kept pushing me under and I couldn't get my head up for air.
"It felt like someone was pulling me back under."
For about 30 seconds, the man thought he might never get out of the waterhole alive but a friend saw he was in trouble, reached in and dragged him to safety.
"I started to think I was in real trouble," he said.
"I've been going there for years and I wouldn't say it's normally dangerous but everyone knows how bad it can be after heavy rain."
Nambour SES Group Leader Meg Rudder drove past the waterhole on Saturday and noticed a group of young people swimming.
She commented to friends that she hoped they weren't swimming in the dangerous waterhole.
Just 24 hours later, her worst fears were realised.
"After heavy rain, there's a very bad undercurrent that swirls under the water and will drag you down," Ms Rudder said.
"There's also lots of debris under the water you can get caught on.
"Once you jump in, it can be too late to realise the dangers."
But Ms Rudder said she couldn't see any point in erecting warning signs.
"It's an open area right near the road and really only locals go there.
"I don't think signs would stop people from swimming there.
"When you're young, you tend to ignore those sort of things."
Kyle's friends took to social media to express their grief yesterday.
"Rest in peace, Kyle - a big guy with a bigger heart! You will be missed," wrote Shannette Solomon.
"I will forever miss you mate! You were the best and funniest guy ever," added Katie Babey.
"You were such a great friend and I can't believe you're gone. Forever loved but never forgotten," Melissa Nurser said.