Peter Allen FIGTREE
New South Wales Police Force
Constable 1st Class
Regd. # ?
Service: From 28 November 1983 to 13 June 1989
Stations: ?, Ballina HWP
Born: ? 1964
Died: 13 June 1989
Cause: Motor vehicle accident
Funeral date: ?
Funeral location: ?
Grave location: Buried at Lismore ( Goonellabah ) Lawn Cemetery – Portion: G Section: 53 Lot: 41
DOUBLE POLICE FATALITY
About 11.25pm on 13 June, 1989 police in Byron Bay commenced a high speed pursuit of a panel van. The pursued vehicle drove south in the Coast Road, followed by the Byron Bay Police vehicle, and into Ballina. As both vehicles continued south through Ballina, a local Highway Patrol vehicle driven by Constable 1st Class Beaver, with Senior Constable Rampling and Constable 1st Class Figtree as passengers, joined the pursuit. More police vehicles arrived to assist as the pursuit continued through the township of Wardell. About five kilometres south of Wardell the Ballina Highway Patrol vehicle began to draw level with the offending vehicle. As it did so, the driver of the pursued vehicle drove across to the centre of the roadway and clipped the front of the Byron Bay Police car. As a result, the police vehicle veered across the road and skidded in loose gravel before colliding with a power pole.
All three police were trapped for some time in the badly damaged police car and when freed were conveyed by ambulance to the Lismore Base Hospital. Constable Beaver recovered from internal injuries received, however Constable Figtree died before he reached hospital and Senior Constable Rampling died a short time later.
Senior Constable Rampling was born in 1959 and joined the New South Wales Police Force on 15 January, 1979. At the time of his death he was attached to the Ballina Detectives.
Constable Figtree was born in 1964 and joined the New South Wales Police Force on 28 November, 1983. At the time of his death he was attached to the Ballina Highway Patrol.
November 6, 2004
Alone in his patrol car, Chris Thornton had the police siren flashing as he chased a white sedan through Woy Woy.
Thornton, 35, a highway patrolman, had been in the force for 15 years. He was, his mother says, “the best driver I have ever seen”.
The reason for the chase that night in April 2002 is unknown. Both cars were seen travelling at high speed. Thornton was about 50 metres behind.
Meanwhile, Leonard Rowley, 56, an unlicensed driver, was driving to his local KFC to pick up dinner. He saw the first car flash past and judged – wrongly – that he had time to turn out in front of the patrol car. Thornton tried to avoid Rowley’s car but clipped the back, veered onto the wrong side of the road and hit a power pole.
Thornton died on the spot, which is marked by a permanent stainless-steel cross. Rowley later received a suspended two-year sentence.
“His life from the age of 12 was about helping people,” says Thornton’s mother, Freada Thornton. “He was in the surf club and he was there to rescue people and then he went into the force and he was doing the same thing.” His father, Barry Thornton, says: “He loved life. He had been in Gosford for 15 years and was so popular with the community there.”
Police pursuits are, says Barry, a necessary evil: “If they don’t catch the criminals there will be more deaths on the roads. The ones that they’re in pursuit of are the idiots that have done the wrong thing to start with.”
But pursuits have come at a cost to the NSW Police Department. Fifteen officers have died as a result of high-speed chases, beginning with the death of Constable George Boore in 1937.
Details provided by the NSW Police Association show a steady stream of fatalities involving cars and motorcycles. The full list of casualties is as follows:
April 2, 1937: Constable George Boore;
June 2, 1954: Constable Cecil Sewell;
November 14, 1958: Constable Brian Boaden;
December 23, 1958: Constable William Lord;
October 14, 1961: Constable James Kinnane;
September 7, 1963: Constable Colin Robb;
December 2, 1976: Constable Terry Moncur;
January 3, 1985: Constable Wayne Rixon;
July 25, 1985: Detective-Constable Steven Tier;
October 20, 1987: Constable Themelis Macarounas;
August 24, 1988: Constable Peter Carter;
June 13, 1989: Constable Peter Figtree;
June 14, 1989: Senior Constable Glenn Rampling;
January 14, 2001: Senior Constable James Affleck;
April 13, 2002: Senior Constable Christopher Thornton.