Tasmanian flooding inquest into deaths of Peter Watson and Trevor Foster begins with partner recalling last moments

The partner of a Tasmanian newspaper deliveryman who died in floodwaters in 2016 has told an inquest of the moment she realised both of them might die.

A joint inquest has begun into the deaths of Peter John Watson and Trevor Foster, who died in floodwaters in separate incidents six years ago.

It will explore the emergency response to the floods and the contribution of water flows from Hydro Tasmania’s catchments.

A report has already found inflows did not contribute.

Mr Watson, 63, was delivering newspapers when his van got stuck in floodwaters near Evandale.

The Hobart Coroner’s Court heard Mr Watson had had a “bad run with flooding” the day before and was a bit concerned about going out.

His partner of nine years, Karen Cassidy, decided to join him on his route to help out.

‘You know we’re going to die, don’t you?’

Karen Cassidy and Peter Watson
Peter Watson, pictured with his partner Karen Cassidy, was swept away by floodwaters at Evandale.(Supplied: Facebook)

The court heard that while the rain had been “bucketing” the day prior, on June 6, it was only lightly drizzling.

The pair were able to do a few deliveries before they encountered water flowing across the road. There were no signs indicating the road was closed.

As they drove, the water began to rise, and Ms Cassidy said she could feel its force pushing the van to the right. They tried to steer it to keep it on the road.

The inquest heard that water began to enter the van and rise, the pair decided to call their family, worried it might be their last chance to speak to them.

They managed to climb on top of the van, where Ms Cassidy said to Mr Watson: “You know we’re going to die, don’t you?”

Water began gushing around them, and as the van moved again, Mr Watson slipped and went face down.

That was the last time Ms Cassidy saw him. She tried calling out to him but heard nothing.

Body found weeks later

In an attempt to get help, Ms Cassidy took off one of her shirts and set it on fire with a lighter, waving it around until it went out.

As the van slipped, Ms Cassidy launched herself into the water.

“I was trying to swim,” she said in her statement to police.

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