The overturned boat at the mouth of the Richmond River.
The overturned boat at the mouth of the Richmond River. Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter

Man, 63, dies after boat capsizes

A 63-YEAR-OLD man from Casino has died and three others had to be rescued after their boat capsized at the mouth of the Richmond River on Tuesday afternoon.

The 6-metre craft, with four men on board, went over trying to cross the bar about 2pm.

A passing boat was on the scene and went to the aid of the men, and the Ballina Jet Boat Rescue was called.

Captain of the jet boat, Garry Meredith, said a youth, estimated to be around 20, jumped from the passing boat into the water to rescue one of the four men.

The rescuer took the man back to his craft where the crew of that boat began CPR.

It is believed the rescued man had suffered a cardiac arrest.

The crew continued resuscitation on the man as they travelled to Lance Ferris Wharf at Fawcett Park in the Ballina CBD, where waiting ambulance paramedics took over the resuscitation efforts.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter landed at the park after responding to a call for assistance.

However, the man was pronounced dead and the helicopter was not required.

Mr Meredith said another of the capsize victims made it to North Wall, with help from the driver of a personal water craft.

He was picked up by an ambulance at North Wall and treated for cuts and bruises and injuries to his arm, then taken to Fawcett Park to rejoin his crewmates.

The other two men were rescued by the jet boat and also taken to Lance Ferris Wharf.

They were treated by paramedics for exposure to the cold, shock and minor injuries.

The three survivors were then all taken to Ballina Hospital.

The incident happened on the outgoing tide in conditions described as choppy.

After the rescue was complete, the jet boat, with three crew on board, returned to about 1km off South Wall to retrieve the capsized vessel.

Mr Meredith said the vessel was ‘drifting at a rate of knots’.

But he said the conditions on the bar were too dangerous to cross the bar towing the vessel, so it was to be taken as close to South Wall as possible so it could then be let go to drift on to South Ballina Beach.

This is the third major incident at the Ballina bar this year.

A charter boat with three men on board capsized on the bar in February when crossings were not recommended by the Ballina coast guard.

No one was injured.

The following day two outrigger canoes were swamped by water while training in the river, and their craft then drifted over the bar and out to sea.

Eight people were rescued by the jet boat, but again no one was injured.

Local Partners