Three family members found dead inside water tank

Published: 17 February 2017


Three members of the same family found dead on a rural NSW property are believed to have been accidentally poisoned inside a water tank.

Their bodies were discovered by emergency services just before 6.30 last night on a property at Gunning, near Yass, after a neighbour raised the alarm.

Police say a 69-year-old man was conducting routine maintenance of a large enclosed water tank, using a water pump and petrol to clean it, before he collapsed inside.

The man’s 68-year-old brother followed him into the tank “to check on him,” and also collapsed and died.

Police say the man’s 63-year-old wife contacted a neighbour before also going into the tank. 

“She unfortunately succumbed to being in the water tank and has also passed away,” Inspector Andrew Koutsoufis said.

When emergency crews arrived, they found a toxic build-up of carbon monoxide fumes inside the tank. 

Police called deaths “a tragic accident,” but were unable to confirm poisoning as the cause, citing an ongoing investigation.

“It’s an absolute tragic set of circumstances,” Inspector Koutsoufis said.

“It’s devastated a family, and being a small country town, it’s also a devastating outcome for a small town like Gunning. A lot of people are hurting at the moment.”

Investigators had to wait until this morning for the fumes to die down, before being able to retrieve the bodies.

A full investigation is underway, with the aim of confirming the family’s cause of death. Autopsies will also be conducted.

“We’re doing all we can to identify anything that went wrong and make sure it doesn’t go wrong again,” Inspector Koutsoufis said.

He added that the victims’ names we’re being withheld, to allow the family privacy.

“They just need some time to grieve,” he said. “It’s just devastating circumstances to lose three members of the family.”

He asked that the incident serve as a warning to others.

“It didn’t take too long for this to happen, this sort of poisoning, it doesn’t take long for these fumes to take effect to a person, and just to be mindful.”

A report is being prepared for the coroner. 


(Inspector Andrew Koutsoufis)