White Rock woman Madison Tam, 18, who disappeared at Devil's Pool, with boyfriend Sean Holden who tried to save her. Picture: Facebook
White Rock woman Madison Tam, 18, who disappeared at Devil's Pool, with boyfriend Sean Holden who tried to save her. Picture: Facebook

‘He tried to save her’: Partner’s grief over waterhole tragedy

THE traumatised mum of a Cairns man who tried to save his beloved girlfriend when she vanished at a notorious swimming hole says her son is shattered by the loss of his "princess".

White Rock student Madison Tam, 18, was with her boyfriend Sean Holden, 18, and two other friends at the Devil's Pool section of the Babinda Boulders on Monday when she became caught in a strong current and was pulled underwater.

The search for the teen, who is presumed drowned, continued at the restricted waterway yesterday involving police divers and the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service's swift-water rescue team.

The search for missing Cairns woman Madison Tam, 18, continued at Devil's Pool on Wednesday. Picture: QPS
The search for missing Cairns woman Madison Tam, 18, continued at Devil's Pool on Wednesday. Picture: QPS

Mr Holden's mother, Tracey Clarke, said her son had bravely dived into the churning water when Ms Tam disappeared underwater about 2pm, but was unable to save her.

"He nearly lost his life trying to get to her," she said.

"He did everything he could to save her; he just keeps saying, 'Mum, I tried so hard'."

Ms Clarke said the couple had been together about a year and were "a perfect match".

"The two of them had so many plans together … he was going to ask her to marry him," she said.

"He always called her his princess." Ms Clarke remembered Ms Tam as "just such a sweet, innocent girl".

"I called her my little mouse; she was just so quiet and dainty," she said.

White Rock woman Madison Tam, 18, is presumed drowned at the Babinda Boulders.
White Rock woman Madison Tam, 18, is presumed drowned at the Babinda Boulders.

The dangerous Devil's Pool waters have reportedly claimed at least 17 lives in the past 60 years, mostly young men, and there are large signs warning against swimming there.

Police said this week it was believed Ms Tam was trying to move between two rocks when she became caught in the current.

Along with her group, another six people were at the site at the time of her disappearance, which has disappointed police given the posted warnings.

The sections of the fast-flowing waterway are nicknamed the "washing machine" and the "chute" by locals with a depth of eight metres and underwater cavities in the surrounding granite boulders.

Police have vowed to continue the search until she is found.

Originally published as 'He tried to save her': Boyfriend's grief over waterhole tragedy


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