IN­SIDE TO­DAY

Footy star says slug boat cap­tain saved his life while film­ing doco

The Observer - - NEWS | WELCOME - Amy Price Courier Mail

A DIS­TRAUGHT Andrew “ET” Et­ting­shausen says he was so rocked by the tragic death of the skip­per who saved his life and the “ul­ti­mate crew” on board sunken trawler Dianne, that he has felt in­se­cure head­ing out on the water ever since.

Et­ting­shausen said he owed his life to Dianne’s skip­per Ben Leahy, who fed him oxy­gen af­ter his reg­u­la­tor failed 30m un­der water while film­ing a Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel doc­u­men­tary with the crew three years ago.

EX­CLU­SIVE A dis­traught Andrew “ET” Et­ting­shausen says he was so rocked by the tragic death of the skip­per who saved his life and the “ul­ti­mate crew” on board sunken trawler Dianne that he has felt in­se­cure head­ing out on the water.

Speak­ing for the first time since the slug boat was lost in a storm, killing six crew mem­bers in Oc­to­ber, the for­mer rugby league leg­end and veteran fishing show host told the Courier-Mail he was strug­gling to com­pre­hend how the ex­pe­ri­enced crew, whose “lives were on the reef”, could have cap­sized.

Et­ting­shausen said he owed his life to Dianne’s skip­per Ben Leahy, who fed him oxy­gen af­ter his reg­u­la­tor failed 30m un­der water while film­ing a Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel doc­u­men­tary with the crew three years ago.

“I still can’t be­lieve it. It’s so tragic,” he said.

“Ben re­ally he saved my life up there. I had a bit of a mal­func­tion with my reg­u­la­tor and I was down 30 me­tres. It wasn’t real good. At one stage I’d al­most said good­bye to my fam­ily.

“Ben came to my res­cue and I was able to make it to the top in the end.”

Po­lice divers re­cov­ered the bod­ies of Mr Leahy and Adam Hoff­man from the wreck­age of the sunken ves­sel off the coast of Cen­tral Queens­land, from which Ruben McDor­nan was the sole survivor.

Adam Bid­ner, Zachary Feeney, Chris Sam­mut and Eli Tonks have not been found.

“It was just un­be­liev­able to hear that they could pos­si­bly cap­size. I just couldn’t be­lieve it be­cause I had been on the boat and knew how strin­gent they were with all their pro­cesses,” Et­ting­shausen said.

“Their whole lives were out there on the reef, ba­si­cally fishing day to day and div­ing every day. They were down un­der water most of the time, more than above water, so to ac­tu­ally hear that tragedy it just rocked me.

“Even when I go out on the water now I’ve just got that, I don’t know, I feel even more in­se­cure now be­cause these guys were the ul­ti­mate crew and skip­per.

“Some­times things go wrong and it must have hap­pened on board be­cause

❝It was just un­be­liev­able to hear that they could pos­si­bly cap­size. — Andrew Et­ting­shausen

they couldn’t get off it.

“And one guy get­ting out ... say­ing he could hear the bang­ing of the crew un­der­neath, to me that’s just the worst of the worst.”

De­spite the doc­u­men­tary footage of the 2015 Salt­wa­ter He­roes series be­ing brought to light since the trawler sank, Et­ting­shausen – who at the time was work­ing to re­lease a book – chose not to speak about the in­ci­dent out of re­spect for the lost men’s fam­i­lies.

Of­fer­ing a tribute to the fam­i­lies, he said in the al­most 19 years he has spent film­ing his fishing adventures, it was the peo­ple like the Dianne crew he met along the way that had made it spe­cial.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Im­age grabs from a doc­u­men­tary on slug boat Dianne that was filmed for the Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel. Andrew Et­ting­shausen and Ruben McDor­nan, the Dianne’s sole survivor.

CHANGED: Andrew "ET" Et­ting­shausen with a 110cm barra nabbed on the Mary River sys­tem. He said he feels ‘in­se­cure’ on the water af­ter the Dianne boat­ing tragedy.

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