Saved ‘against in­cal­cu­la­ble odds’

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

MUF­FLED screams for help heard from the helm of VMR 1 alerted the skip­per to the lo­ca­tion of a miss­ing swim­mer last seen on Co­ral Beach as dark­ness be­gan to fall.

VMR Whit­sun­day pres­i­dent Mal Pri­day said his crew was ac­ti­vated on Satur­day at 6pm by the po­lice search and res­cue co-or­di­na­tor.

Grave con­cerns were held for the man in his 30s who had left no per­sonal ef­fects on the beach.

A shore­line search en­sued be­tween Pi­o­neer Point and the Neck, the crew op­er­at­ing at speed in lumpy seas going as far at Co­ral Point be­fore turn­ing around and do­ing it again.

But to no avail.

Off Swamp Bay the crew no­ticed a lit­tle light em­a­nat­ing from the shore.

Turn­ing to in­ves­ti­gate, Mr Pri­day said the crew used their in­fra-red cam­eras and search light, launched the dingy and headed in the di­rec­tion of the light.

“I sent two crew in and as they were get­ting close they saw on the FLIR some­one walk down onto the beach to talk to them,” he said.

“But it wasn’t the peo­ple we were look­ing for.”

About 8pm VMR 1 be­gan head­ing back to Abell Point Ma­rina when off Green Point Mr Pri­day “heard a voice”.

“Against in­cal­cu­la­ble odds,” he said.

“I was up driv­ing the boat on the fly-bridge and in the mid­dle of nowhere, off-shore, I heard a voice and some­one yelling.

“I ini­tially thought one of the crew had fallen over board so I pulled back on the throt­tles by which time the crew were telling me there was a guy in the wa­ter.”

The man was pulled aboard in an ex­hausted state and wear­ing noth­ing but a pair of shorts.

Po­lice were no­ti­fied and the man was trans­ported to Proser­pine hos­pi­tal for ob­ser­va­tion.

About 800 me­tres off-shore in an ex­hausted state Mr Pri­day doubted the man could have swam the dis­tance to save his own life.

PHOTO: PETER CAR­RUTHERS

Whit­sun­day VMR 1 res­cued a man in his 30s off Green Point.

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