A nine-year- old boy drowned and another child and a man were taken to hospital in critical condition following a tragic incident at Tin Can Bay in Queensland on Sunday, February 12.
The two boys were fighting against a current in deep water after they lost contact with their inflatable toy when 49-year- old truckie Adam Whitehouse swam out to help the pair.
Graeme Spillman, who saw the ordeal from his nearby yacht, used his tinny to save Adam and one of the two boys, aged eight.
He and other members of the public performed CPR until paramedics arrived, but the nine-year- old was declared dead at the scene.
Graeme is also a truckie and touted Adam as a superhero, commending him for risking his life outside of the truck.
The two Gympie- based truckies have since become mates and Adam’s boss at Edwards Transport even gave Graeme a job carting pineapples after the ordeal.
“We risk our lives every day to put food on the shelves and Adam risked his life once again, off the road,” Graeme says. “He’s a real hero mate, he’s a Superman.”
The tragedy is fresh in Graeme’s mind and one thing he remembers is how hard Adam fought to save the boys, reaching complete exhaustion in the process.
“If it wasn’t for Superman, they both would have died.
“He was ready to meet his maker and he said to me, ‘I’m exhausted, I’m going,’ but I told him he wasn’t going anywhere as I dragged him in.
“He is so brave and I just can’t believe the strength and endurance he had on the day. He was probably in the water with two kids for a quarter of an hour. “I don’t know he did it.” Graeme describes seeing Adam with the boys, at first thinking they were swimming but quickly realising they were in trouble.
“I spotted it from about 150m away and I thought they were out in the channel too far.
“I’ve lived on my yacht for eight years so I was aware they shouldn’t be out in the current because it runs at eight knots, and then I saw him put his arm up.
“I thought Adam was dead, I dragged him in and I was doing CPR on the child the whole time while trying to rescue Adam as well.”
Owner// Driver recently caught up with Adam and Graeme in Brisbane after they’d carted a load of pineapples from Gympie.
Adam spoke of the ordeal, calling all truckies ‘heroes’, saying it’s part of who they are.
“I reckon any truckie would have done what we did,” Adam says.
“We get the worst wrap out there, but these are a bunch of guys who put it all on the line.”
Adam and Graeme both spoke of most onlookers filming the incident or taking photos on their phone, rather than helping.
“Everybody else stood around with their mobiles taking pictures and Adam’s fiancé had to run around the beach to get people to help her.”
“They had their phones out, taking videos instead of doing anything to help us,” Graeme says.
“That really, really frustrated me, it isn’t right.”
Adam’s boss at Kybong- based trucking company Edwards Transport, John Edwards, is helping get the hard-working truckie back on his feet after the traumatic experience.
“He’s staying at the yard here in a house, and we’re giving him a bit of company to talk and stuff,” John says. “His wife is staying here at the moment too; she was there through the ordeal as well.”
John, who owns Edwards Transport, says Adam is a kind man and has thanked truckie Graeme who came to his rescue.
“He’s the kind of guy that would do this; it’s part of his DNA.
“He’s a great bloke to have around and most of my guys are very hard to come by.
“It’s a blessing there was another truckie that came to save Adam.”
Heroic truckies: Adam Whitehouse (right) and Graeme Spillman