Doubts over rescue bid
Expert tells inquest of ‘highly unlikely’ actions to save mate
THE description a man gave of trying to rescue his friend from waters off Flinders Island during a fishing trip in 2015 is “highly unlikely” to have happened, a coronial inquest has heard.
The inquest into the death of Robert Charles Mansell, 42, resumed in Hobart yesterday.
Mr Mansell disappeared off Flinders Island on August 8, 2015, while fishing with a friend, Joshua Kennedy.
The inquest is examining whether Mr Kennedy had any role in Mr Mansell’s death.
Paul Luckin, a medical doctor with experience in search and rescue and lifesaving, and a former Royal Life Saving Tasmania president, appeared as an expert witness.
Dr Luckin said it was his opinion that Mr Mansell died on August 8, 2015, within five minutes of entering the water.
He said Mr Kennedy gave a description in September 2015 of how he attempted to rescue Mr Mansell.
“Mr Kennedy says that he was in the water for 15-20 minutes and that he had Mr Mansell for five minutes after he’d reached him, trying to bring him back to [Salmon] Rock,” Dr Luckin said.
He said within 10 minutes in the cold water Mr Kennedy “would have been finding it very difficult” but he said even if Mr Kennedy had the time frame wrong and the rescue attempt unfolded more quickly, it was still unlikely.
“He describes Mr Mansell being on the surface calling for help … He says ‘I spun him around and put my arm around him’,” Dr Luckin said.
“His description of the technique of rescue is highly improbable … because it’s not something an untrained person is able to do.”
Dr Luckin also said: “I think it’s very unlikely that Mr Mansell was still on the surface long enough for Mr Kennedy to reach him and long enough to rescue him.”
He said if Mr Kennedy was affected by moderate hypothermia, it would hinder his ability to give an accurate account of what happened.
The inquest previously heard Mr Kennedy and Mr Mansell were rivals for the attentions of then Flinders Island woman Stephanie Riggall.
Flinders Island woman Marley Clark yesterday told the inquest she overheard a comment Ms Riggall made to Mr Kennedy at a pub in Whitemark some time after Mr Mansell’s disappearance.
“She said, ‘are you going to push me off the rocks at the river next’,” Ms Clark said.
She agreed she was drunk, that the pub was crowded and she was standing about two metres from Ms Riggall at the time.
Mr Kennedy’s lawyer, Grant Tucker, suggested Ms Clark was mistaken about the comment.
“I don’t think that I’m mistaken,” Ms Clark said.
The inquest, before Coroner Olivia McTaggart, will resume on February 12 for at least two days, when it is expected Mr Kennedy and Ms Riggall will be among the witnesses.