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Victoria storms: Seymour baker's body found after floodwaters sweep car off bridge

Monday January 4, 2016 - 17:04 EDT
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A man who drove into floodwaters in central Victoria was unable to be rescued. - ABC

A baker who died while on his way to work after attempting to drive his car through floodwaters in Seymour, in central Victoria, has been described as a "gentleman" who would brighten people's day.

Witnesses told police that Max Loweke, a 63-year-old local, tried to drive over a bridge on Delatite Road just after 2:00am and was swept into Whiteheads Creek, which had flooded due to heavy rain.

The State Emergency Service tried to rescue Mr Loweke, with one member tying a rope around his waist in an attempt to reach him.

But the car filled with water and was submerged before rescuers could get to him.

Police said the water was about 1.6 metres high and moving rapidly when the incident happened.

His body was found inside the car this morning.

Mr Loweke ran a bakery and was well-known in the community.

Geoff Dixon has known Mr Loweke for more than 20 years through their involvement with horse racing and lawn bowls.

"He was a real gentleman of Seymour," Mr Dixon said.

"Anybody who'd walk past, Max would give his hand out, he'd rather give than take, and just a smile from him brightened your day up.

"We will all miss him."

Mr Dixon said Mr Loweke was passionate about his family and sport, and was a part-owner in two race horses.

"He absolutely tried on the horses," he said.

"It could have won a walking race down the Main Street and he'd be tickled pink."

The SES said the road the man was travelling on was particularly prone to flooding.

Sergeant Geoff Shaw said there were permanent signs warning about the risk of flash-flooding.

"The locals are aware this area is prone to flooding, completely without warning," he said.

"We haven't seen a lot of rain through here for some time. Yesterday it was one of those things. It is quite tragic."

Emergency Services Minister Jane Garratt said Mr Loweke's death was a sad reminder about the dangers of flash flooding.

"We've seen 100mm [of rain] fall in parts of Gippsland and predicted thunderstorms in the north and west of the state," she said.

"[We're just] reminding all Victorians, do not walk or drive into floodwaters.

"If you have any doubts at all, just stop and wait for help to arrive."

Heavy rain on Sunday saw up to 83 millimetres fall in Seymour.

The Bureau of Meteorology said flooding should have subsided, but a minor flood warning remains in place for the area.


© ABC 2016

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