Police name couple in Coral Bay tragedy

Kathreen Ricketson

Kathreen Ricketson was writing a book about her family’s 12-month road trip around Australia.
Source: PerthNow

pn police divers

Police Divers leave Jandakot Airport early today to fly to Coral Bay to search for a missing man whose wife’s body was discovered yesterday. Picture: Kerris Berrington
Source: PerthNow

Coral Bay beach

A woman’s body has washed up on a beach near Coral Bay. Her husband is missing and two children were found on the beach.
Source: PerthNow

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A woman has died and a man is missing after a snorkelling trip at the idyllic WA resort of Coral Bay.

Robert Shugg

Robert Shugg was swimming in the water with Kathreen Ricketson at Coral Bay and has not been found.
Source: PerthNow

THE woman who died at a beach near Coral Bay yesterday had been writing a book about her family’s experience travelling around Australia for 12 months.

Kathreen Ricketson, 41 and Robert Shugg, 48, had been camping with their two children at Elle’s Beach, an idyllic holiday spot about 55km south of Coral Bay, when they went for a swim yesterday afternoon.

Their two children, a 13 year-old girl and a 10 year-old boy, were on the beach with other campers when they noticed their parents in trouble.

Police spokesman Dominic Wood said the people on the beach initially thought the pair was snorkeling when they saw them face down in the water.

The couple’s son raised the alarm after realising his parents were in trouble when he went into the water to swim with them and saw them face down.

When the couple did not respond to calls from their children, Ms Ricketson was pulled to shore and campers tried desperately to save her life.

“While they were trying to save the life of the mother, they noticed the father was also not moving in the water,” Inspector Wood said.

“They tried to get out to him but he disappeared under the water.

“The kids were obviously there and it would have been an absolutely devastating situation for them.”

Book deal was trip of a lifetime

Ms Ricketson was a writer and photographer who had been blogging about her family’s experience on the road and had signed a deal to write a book called Family Road Trip.

She wrote in one post: “Our trip will take us, with our camping trailer, around Australia for a year. The kids will be home-schooled and Rob and I will be working on the road. We have power, internet and our laptops and so theoretically we will be able to work from almost anywhere.”

Ms Ricketson’s website said she and her husband were planning to write a book about their travels around the country.

“The book is not just any old travel book. It will be part on the road memoir, part family camping adventure how-to, but mostly it will be a whole bunch of fun projects that can be done in a day or a weekend by those who want to get away from it all and reconnect with their families,” Ms Ricketson wrote.

Ms Ricketson described the trip to Ningaloo as a “dream come true”.

“We are bush camping at a station on Ningaloo reef, Western Australia. A dream come true – is that totally corn ball?” she wrote.

Inspector Wood said the couple, from the ACT, entered the water about 2.45pm.

The woman’s body washed ashore 45 minutes later.

Inspector Wood said there were no suspicious circumstances and the death appeared to be a “tragic accident”.

Rescue efforts to find the father would continue into the night.

“We will continue the marine rescue to search for the father with a fixed air wing, marine volunteer rescue boats, a DEC boat, police divers and a shoreline search involving local police,” he said.

“It’s quite an extensive search and it’s ongoing.”

Senior Constable Barney Hutchison, from WA Water Police, said hopes were fading as the hours passed.
Last night, the two children were cared for by local campers, police and DEC staff.

They were flown back to Perth today where they were met by family members from Tasmania.

Police will prepare a report for the coroner.

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