A man has been charged with manslaughter over a boating accident south of Perth which killed two women, including the mother of West Coast AFL player Rhett Bazzo. Four people were aboard the boat on January 22 when it collided with a channel marker guidepost near Creery Island in the Mandurah estuary, on the south-western coast of WA.
Debbie Burdon, 54, died at the scene after falling into the water. The body of fellow passenger Kylie Bazzo, 54, was recovered the following day.
A 47-year-old man allegedly driving the boat was taken to hospital with serious injuries while a 54-year-old man was uninjured. WA Police have charged 47-year-old John Phillip Burdon with two counts of manslaughter over the incident on January 23. Mr Burdon appeared in Mandurah Magistrates Court on Monday, before being released on bail, following a $100,000 surety, $100,000 personal undertaking. He is due to face the Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court on February 22 after also being made to surrender his passport.
Both of the women who died in the tragedy had volunteered for and managed sporting teams in Mandurah. Ms Bazzo was the first woman to lead a WAFL club when she served as chief executive of Peel Thunder in the early 2000s.
Her son Rhett made his AFL debut for West Coast last season. The 19-year-old lost his father, decorated WAFL player Steve Bazzo, to cancer in 2015.
West Coast last month said they were devastated by the news of Ms Bazzo's passing. "The club's players, staff and board extend their deepest condolences to the Bazzo family and are offering every support to Rhett, his sister Kameron and their loved ones," the club said in a statement.
Rhett Bazzo, 19, is a rising star for the West Coast Eagles after being drafted by the club in 2021. He played nine matches last year, averaging 9.9 disposals per game.
"We are super excited and proud of you Rhett - hard work and commitment definitely pays off," Mrs Bazzo recently wrote online after her son's contract was extended until 2025.
AFL world offers condolences to Rhett Bazzo and family
Rhett is the son of WAFL great Steve Bazzo, who died of cancer when Rhett and his sister Kameron were young children. “My family has given up a lot of things to make sure I can try and live out my childhood dream and I know my Dad would be looking down on me proud,” Rhett told reporters after he was drafted.
The death of Bazzo's mother sparked a flood of tributes to the young West Coast star from across the footy world.
Absolutely horrible news, our thoughts prayers and support are with Rhett & Kameron Bazzo
— 🇦🇺Kez Sparks🇨🇦 (@kez_sparks) January 22, 2023
Incredibly sad news about Rhett Bazzo’s mum. Thoughts are with his family during this time
— Elliott 🤓 (@flagmantlefc) January 22, 2023
Thoughts are with Rhett Bazzo and his family during what must be an incredibly difficult time.
— Damo (@DamoSC) January 22, 2023
Wishing strength and love to Rhett Bazzo and his family.
— The SuperCoach Savant (@TheSCSavant) January 22, 2023
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