WHALE OF A TALE

BOAT CRASH INJURES FOUR

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - DOMANII CAMERON domanii. cameron@ news. com. au

A WHIT­SUN­DAYS fish­ing char­ter had a fright­en­ing en­counter with a hump­back whale af­ter the mam­mal slammed into their boat, throw­ing the ves­sel into the air.

A- One Fish­ing Char­ter’s 8.5m boat was head­ing back to Abell Point Ma­rina at Air­lie Beach on Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon when it hit a whale about 8km off Glouces­ter Is­land.

Four men were taken to hos­pi­tal, in­clud­ing owner Oliver Galea, 44, who suf­fered a ma­jor lac­er­a­tion to his head that ex­posed his skull.

Zam­bian tourist Mark Young, 48, was in a sta­ble con­di­tion yes­ter­day af­ter­noon at the Proser­pine Hos­pi­tal, while Greg Wil­son, 31, was dis­charged yes­ter­day morn­ing.

An­other 70- year- old man was taken to hos­pi­tal but was not ad­mit­ted.

Mr Galea, who re­ceived eight stitches to his head wound, said the ter­ri­fy­ing col­li­sion caught every­one by sur­prise.

“We were only go­ing about 45km/ h; there were no blow holes and we didn’t see any whales,” he said.

“All of a sud­den it’s ( whale) thrown the boat out of the wa­ter and it’s come crash­ing down.”

Mr Galea said no one knew what had hap­pened un­til a pas­sen­ger saw a whale mov­ing away from the boat.

“Within a split sec­ond every­one was just down on the ground. We didn’t know what had hap­pened,” he said. “I’ve hit my head on the front rail. Mark, the man next to me, was un­con­scious. It all hap­pened so fast, it was a freak ac­ci­dent.

“I’m think­ing it was about three times the size ( of the boat).”

The RACQ CQ Res­cuer was en route to a bea­con search off Bowen when the he­li­copter was di­verted to A- One’s EPIRB ac­ti­va­tion.

The he­li­copter’s crew de­ter­mined the sit­u­a­tion was too dan­ger­ous to con­duct a winch of those in­jured and de­cided to fol­low the ves­sel back to Abell Point.

Mr Galea said the col­li­sion left a round dent in his boat and knocked out one of his two out­board en­gines.

“On the GPS co- or­di­nates there’s a gap when it ( boat) left the wa­ter,” he said. “Ev­ery char­ter we see whales.

“Some days you’re just sit­ting there and they come up.

“At first we all sort of pan­icked ( but) we’ll be back out on the wa­ter by the end of the week.

“We’re all catch­ing up for din­ner tonight in Air­lie to talk about what hap­pened.

“We were lucky we didn’t cap­size or get thrown over.

“It’s just so lucky that the boat wasn’t fi­bre­glass.”

MAIN PHOTO: File im­age of a hump­back. Pic­ture: RACQ CQ RES­CUE

WHALE SCARE: The char­ter boat heads to Abell Point af­ter hit­ting a whale.

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