Hon­our for sea res­cue trio

Midwest Times - - FRONT PAGE - Adam Poulsen

A fa­ther, son and fam­ily friend who risked their lives to res­cue three men whose boat cap­sized off Hor­rocks Beach, near Northamp­ton, will re­ceive Com­men­da­tions for Brave Con­duct at the Aus­tralian Brav­ery Awards.

Wal­ter Ash­worth, his son Mor­gan and friend Sandy Cooke, all from Kalan­nie in WA’s Wheat­belt, were tak­ing their new boat for a test drive in Septem­ber, 2014, when they no­ticed another ves­sel in trou­ble.

Mor­gan, who was 15 at the time, said they quickly re­alised the dan­ger of the sit­u­a­tion.

“There’s a lit­tle gap in the reef that you need to go through to get out into the deep blue and we looked over there and saw a boat get hit by a wave and just go straight over,” he said.

“They were all cling­ing to the up­turned boat and we were the only other peo­ple around.

“They were all prob­a­bly past their 50s and when we got closer, they were call­ing out to us that one of them couldn’t swim, so he was the first one we saved.”

Mr Ash­worth said al­though he knew he risked cap­siz­ing his own boat dur­ing the res­cue, he acted on in­stinct.

“It was a pretty hec­tic sit­u­a­tion be­cause we had to get right in among the breakers, but when it hap­pened, we didn’t have time to be scared,” he said. “The waves were big enough to go right over the top of us and the other lit­tle boat just ended up right in the curl.”

Mor­gan said de­spite the haz­ardous con­di­tions, they knew they had to act quickly.

“It was pretty scary be­cause we were right in the mid­dle of the gap and there were huge waves — I don’t know how we didn’t flip our own boat.” Af­ter get­ting the first man aboard, the trio went to the res­cue of the se­cond man.

“I was try­ing to lift a bloke in who was half over the back of the boat but there was a huge wave com­ing to­wards us side on, so he said ‘just go’ be­cause if we’d waited to get him on board, we would have cap­sized as well.

“He just looked at me and said ‘don’t you let go, mate’, so I was hold­ing on to him and Dad just gave it ev­ery­thing and some­how we man­aged to hang on to him and get back out to where it was a bit safer.”

The owner opted to stay with his

stricken ves­sel, but Mr Ash­worth steered his boat to a po­si­tion where he could keep sight of the stranded man un­til a cray­fish­ing boat ar­rived to take him aboard and tow the cap­sized boat to shore.

Mor­gan said he and his fa­ther felt hon­oured to be recog­nised for their heroic ac­tions.

“It feels pretty spe­cial — it makes you feel good that you’ve saved some peo­ple’s lives and we ap­pre­ci­ate get­ting the awards,” he said.

Mr Ash­worth said he was proud of the courage showed dur­ing the res­cue.

“They did re­ally well. The boys were only 14 and 15 but were try­ing to lift in guys that were two or three times their weight, so it was was a pretty tough gig for them.”

Northamp­ton po­lice Sergeant Stu­art Ger­reyn said he re­mem­bered the ex­tra­or­di­nary res­cue.

“What those men did was ex­tremely brave and coura­geous,” he said.

Sgt Ger­reyn said boaters of­ten un­der­es­ti­mated the po­ten­tial dan­gers at Hor­rocks Beach.

“A lot of peo­ple come up to this area and think tak­ing a boat out through Hor­rocks is quite an easy task, but it’s not, es­pe­cially if the con­di­tions are a lit­tle bit rough,” he said.

“It doesn’t take much for the swell to get quite treach­er­ous through the cut where the boats come in and out of, and it just goes to show that no mat­ter how much ex­pe­ri­ence you’ve got in that area, any­thing can hap­pen.”

WA re­cip­i­ents of the 2017 Brav­ery Awards will re­ceive their awards early next year at Govern­ment House in Perth.

Pic­ture: Jo Ash­worth Pho­tog­ra­phy

Mor­gan Ash­worth, Sandy Cooke and Wal­ter Ash­worth the day they res­cued three men from a cap­sized boat in 2014.

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