I wrote and published the story in the article reprinted below more than two years ago.
I’m not telling you this to boast – although given that I was years ahead of the mainstream media on the story I would have good grounds to – but rather to illustrate just how long the Tyson/Rice family have been battling for justice their lost mother and brother, and as a prelude to posing this simple question: if I could look at the issue and immediately spot the deliberate, and arguably criminal, perversion of the truth that occurred, why couldn’t anyone else?
John and Blake Tyson are mates of mine, and have been to my home on several occasions. I would have gone to theirs too, but during the long years that they were shouting and nobody was listening this pair of fantastic blokes whose world was ripped apart in a single minute six years ago were reduced to living in their car.
Before the accident John had, through grit and hard work, come from nothing to build up two successful businesses and had assets worth more than a million dollars. He lost, gave away or was robbed of it all after Donna and Jordan died. Those who exploited him during his time of unthinkable grief – including the senior politicians from both sides of Parliament who broke promises they made to John, broke him financially and damn near broke his heart – are a disgrace. How they can sleep at night is a mystery to me.
John sunk into building an emergency response program that would prevent tragedies like the one that struck his family from befalling anyone else. The LNP – then in opposition, and keen to use the then politically naive John and the huge degree of public sympathy felt for him to their own advantage – promised to implement it. Being politicians though they didn’t; after the LNP was elected to power John couldn’t even get anyone to take his calls, and his not-for-profit project and his life savings were sunk.
The money didn’t matter: Blake and John didn’t ask for handouts or sympathy or assistance from the government after their family was torn asunder in January 2011. All they asked for was the truth.
Of course, they didn’t get it, but what they did receive was millions of dollars in unprompted donations from kind people around the globe who were touched by his tragedy and wanted to help.
Being the kind of men they are John and Blake gave every cent, the whole lot, to the Flood Reconstruction Fund.
The government used the money to rebuild the Brisbane River Walk, hundreds of kilometres away from where Jordan and Donna had died. The whole lot., millions of dollars, while John and Blake slept in their car. Go figure.
When John later pleaded with the Palaszcsuk government for a small piece of public land on which he could erect a statue in honour of Jordan’s heroism he was told in no uncertain terms to piss off, even though the statue would be self-funded and wouldn’t cost the State of Queensland a thing other than a 3x3m patch of grass.
The Toowoomba Council offered him a small plaque on a park gate. The only catch was that John, by then unemployed and homeless on the Gold Coast, would have to maintain the park daily or pay someone else to do it. Your wife and kid died? Here catch, this is the petrol tin for the mower. Go fill it up and get to work, the grass is getting long. Don’t forget to do the edges.
The batterings just kept coming, one after the other.
Blake was bullied and bashed at school by kids who were resentful at the totally unwanted media attention he received after his Mum and brother died.
The family’s Toowoomba house was shot at by criminals undetected, unknown and at large still today – the police weren’t too interested in investigating; gee looking at today’s revelations I wonder why? – forcing John to sell it quickly for a song so he could get Blake out of town and keep him safe. The pair had to move 200km away to escape the inexplicable persecution, and later ended up on the street.
John’s older son fell apart under the weight of his grief and a guilt that he should never have been forced to feel, and wouldn’t have if the Queensland Police had done their job. He turned to drugs and lost the plot, and ended up in jail. Before the tragedy, he’d never been in trouble in his life.
Donna’s gravestone was changed without his knowledge or consent. John only found out one day when he and Blake were making their regular pilgrimage to the Council-owned cemetery where Donna and Jordan are laid to rest and to their horror saw that the 2-tonne stone had been removed, altered and replaced.
He tried to get answers.
The Toowoomba Council, upset at his repeated criticisms of the structural alterations to roads and waterways that had rendered his wife’s death site a swimming pool in heavy rain, wouldn’t help.
The stonemason company was owned by the Wagner brothers, and John had been assisting the Grantham victims in their (ultimately successful) campaign for a second inquiry into the cause of the flooding that ripped the heart out of their community and killed many of their own. They weren’t happy with John at all, and refused to give him answers or to restore the memorial to its original form.
Like they have for most of the past six years John and Blake found themselves all alone.
It seemed like the hammerings they were copping would never end, and my mate at times surely must have been wondering if he was the modern-day incarnation of Job. I will never know though because I didn’t ask. JT’s the sort of man who doesn’t complain, a bloke who when offered help or a shoulder to lean on will tell you to save it for someone who needs it, his deeply held belief being that there are plenty of people worse off than he is.
I’m was never quite sure exactly where they were, but once John sets his mind to something there’s no point arguing with him so I didn’t bother to ask. He’s got the inner strength of a bullock and the determination of an ox my mate, as the Queensland Police and Government are I imagine to their horror suddenly beginning to learn.
You couldn’t knock John Tyson down with an iron bar, and Blake’s cut from the same mould, so during all the years of their terrible travails they soldiered on, keeping their eyes firmly fixed on their goal of making the world aware of the terrible truths of the police negligence that resulted in Donna and Jordan’s death, and the high-level cover-ups and lies that followed which had resulted in Donna posthumously and totally incorrectly being apportioned blame for their deaths. John and Blake knew if they stuck with it they’d get there. All they needed was someone to listen to their story.
As incredible as it sounded on the first hearing, they knew that once a reporter suspended disbelief and dug into the evidence they would discover that what the man and boy who had lost their wife, mother, son and brother was true. Every single word of it, it was all true.
The police did lie.
They did manipulate Blake’s witness statement.
They did mislead the public about the three triple O calls Donna and Jordan made.
The police did other things too that you will learn all about in the fullness of time.
At least one other witness statement was altered. I suspect, but cannot at this stage prove, that by threat or promise the police coerced the witness who had given it – a young man named Edward Spark – into making another statement that is substantially different in content, time and form from the first, and oddly enough just so happens to match the story told by the Police Commander about his movements the day John and Blake Tyson’s family died. The first statement didn’t, and under close examination would have cast the veracity of the Commander’s sworn account into great doubt.
A police car with officers inside who might just have saved their lives did drive past Donna and Jordan while they were stranded in the floodwaters, but didn’t stop. Its movements are shown clearly in a PowerPoint presentation submitted to the Police Coroner’s inquiry into their deaths. For reasons unknown that Coroners report has never been publicly released, and the evidence put before the Coroner remains hidden from broader view. I’ve seen it however, and cried as over and over I watched the police car just drive on by.
The regional police commander did drive up to the intersection while the pair were stranded on the roof and did stop, but decided it was too dangerous and drove away and left them to drown. I’ve seen the evidence of that too; it’s difficult to dismiss given that it was prepared and submitted by the Queensland Police Force itself, based on police records of officer’s movements on the day.
What Blake and John have been saying for at least 5 years is true, it’s all true.
I’ve known it for a long time, ever since I became one of the rare few who have gained access to and bothered to read and disseminate the entire aggregation of the thick volumes of evidence, and in the intervening years I must to no avail have approached scores of journalists to tell them the tale and encourage them to write about it.
No-one said it out loud but almost to a person these reporters wrote me off as a conspiracy theorist, just as they had written John off as a bloke who by the sheer weight of his grief had become unhinged. ‘They’re both mad, this high-level of corruption couldn’t happen in Queensland’ I could see each of the journalists thinking, seemingly blind only thirty years after Fitzgerald to the fact that such corruption could indeed happen in Queensland, and for nearly half a century did.
Perhaps I am mad, but I can assure you that John isn’t, and the facts don’t lie; It was simply that no-one in the mainstream press took the substantial time required to investigate them.
And then along came gun investigative journalist Pamela Williams and now someone has.
Williams superb extended story about Blake’s falsified record of police interview is the beginning of the journey to the truth, not the end. There is much, much more to tell, and what you will learn over the coming weeks – if it can get past the News Corp lawyers and be printed – will cause you to question why you should ever trust the unverified assertions of police or government authorities again.
Donna Rice and her son Jordan didn’t drive into a flooded intersection to their deaths; they were simply ordinary people doing ordinary things who in a freak of terrible fortune became trapped in their car by a sudden torrent swollen waters. They died that day in those dark, swirling waters, but if the police had acted immediately they could and should have been saved. That’s the truth, and it always has been. It’s just some people in high places with a lot to lose didn’t want us to find out.
Bad luck to them.
The story of Donna and Jordan’s death and the events in the aftermath must be told, because but for the grace of God it could have been you in the car trapped in the rising waters that dreadful day not Donna, and your kid who was washed away and drowned in the torrent instead of John’s.
Then it would be your truth that is being swept away in a flood of lies and deliberate deceit, and you who died waiting for the policemen that never came; hoping, hoping, hoping to see that familiar flashing blue light, hoping, hoping, hoping until all hope was lost, and it became dark and still.
And then it would be you in the picture at the top wearing a black suit and carrying the pretty white wooden boxes with the lifeless bodies of your beloved wife and child inside. Placing them deep won a hole dug in the earth that hitherto you’d seen only in your darkest dreams; watching as the pretty white boxes are covered first with dark soil, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and then later littered with layers of foul, fetid lies.
It could have been you, it could have been you.
Donna and Jordan were ordinary people just like you and me. They lived, they laughed, they loved and they cried. And then one rain swept day they died. They can’t tell their story anymore; but we can, and we must.
Donna and Jordan are dead.
Don’t let the truth die with them.