The Courier-Mail

Son’s tragic choice to leave dead dad


A SPEARFISHE­RMAN was forced to leave his unconsciou­s dad in waters off Cairns in order to swim to safety two days before Father’s Day.

The 24-year-old man and his 56-year-old father were fishing off Arlington Reef on Friday when their boat drifted away in windy conditions.

As they tried to retrieve it, the older man got into trouble.

Sergeant Andrew Ibell, from Cairns Water Police, said the son tried to resuscitat­e his father but was forced to make the “heart-wrenching decision to leave” to try and reach the boat. A commercial vessel named Hero spotted the Gordonvale man clinging to a navigation buoy around 5km from their original position.

“He was very distressed obviously,” Sgt Ibell said. “Water Police went out and picked him up off that vessel and brought him back to Cairns to be with his family.” It took crews just 45 minutes to find the father’s body.

The boat, which is worth up to $50,000, still hasn’t been found. Sgt Ibell said police expected debris would have been spotted if it had sunk.

The vessel was “most likely still floating out there” and could have travelled as far as waters near Cooktown, he said. A report will be prepared for the coroner.

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