Nambucca rescue as three thrown from runabout

A MAN has suffered suspected spinal injuries when he and two companions were thrown from their 5m runabout as it flipped end-to-end on the hazardous Nambucca River Bar early this morning.

Marine Rescue NSW Northern Rivers Regional Controller Stephen Reading said a nearby recreational boat and volunteers on Marine Rescue Nambucca's two rapid response Rescue Water Craft (jet skis) had rushed to rescue the men.
"About 6am, on a low tide, a white runabout with three people on board overturned on the bar. One wave reportedly hit the boat, filling it with water. As the skipper attempted to turn, the boat was hit by a larger wave that caused the vessel to overturn end-over-end," Mr Reading said.

"One of the men was trapped underneath the boat for some time, while the other two were thrown clear, one suffering suspected spinal injuries. All were wearing lifejackets.

"Fortunately for the three boaters, the skipper of the recreational vessel nearby was a NSW Ambulance paramedic, Brett George. He quickly reached the two men in the water, getting them to grab the edge of his boat and slowly towing them into calmer, deeper water.

"As Trevor Mackay, Michael Donnelly and Daniel Smith quickly arrived on the scene aboard Marine Rescue Nambucca's RWCs, Mr George got into the water with the patient with the suspected spinal injury to assess him and load him on to one of the RWC's rescue sleds.

"Mr George then boarded the sled and stabilised the man as they were taken to Shelley Beach. The patient was then transferred to Coffs Harbour Hospital.

"The second man thrown clear also was retrieved by jet ski and the boat's owner was able to climb on to Wellington Rock and then walk to Shelley Beach for medical attention."

Mr Reading commended Mr George and the Marine Rescue crew for their rapid and professional response to the serious emergency.

"These men were incredibly fortunate that not only were our volunteers able to reach them so swiftly on the unit's RWCs but also that a paramedic happened to be on the scene and was able to go to their rescue and provide first-class emergency medical assistance," he said.

"This incident again demonstrates the great value of our emergency services' intensive training, modern equipment and cooperation and collaboration. It also demonstrates the importance of wearing lifejackets, which helped keep these men afloat until help arrived."

Boaters in the vicinity have been warned that the boat, which remains submerged near Wellington Rock, floating ropes or other debris could form a hazard for other vessels.

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