Ballina Jet Boat heroes honoured for high seas rescue
SIX Ballina Jet Boat Rescue members have been recognised for their heroic actions on the night both the 36-foot motor cruiser Wanita and the Ballina Marine Rescue vessel capsized in rough conditions on the Ballina sandbar on April 15, 2013.
Ballina Jet Boat Rescue crew Bradley Heard, Gary Murphy, Mark Puglisi and communication support crew Elton Cummings, Ben Redman and Ross Trease are today being presented with Group Bravery Awards for their roles in the rescue.
The traumatic events occurred when motor cruiser Wanita got in trouble in rough seas on the Ballina sandbar at about 12.20am on April 15.
Ballina Marine Rescue responded to the distress call, taking the two Wanita crew on board.
While attempting to tow the stricken vessel off the breakwall, a large swell hit the rescue boat, throwing the crews into the water and capsizing both vessels.
The Ballina Jet Boat responded, successfully traversing the bar despite the run-out tide, big seas and dark conditions.
TOP LOCAL STORIES ONLINE TODAY
Once the three Jet Boat crew members got past the breaking waves, they could see the upturned marine rescue vessel with two crew on the overturned hull.
While they were searching, two more people, who had been underneath the overturned hull, popped out of the water on either side.
However, one of passengers from the private boat was still missing and a search began. He was eventually spotted a fair way out, thanks to an LED torch he had in his pocket.
But getting back to shore with eight people on board proved even more difficult.
HOW IT UNFOLDED:
- Three in hospital after dramatic high-seas rescue
- First pictures of damaged Marine Rescue boat
- Gong for Jet Boat's dramatic Marine Rescue save
"There were eight people in our jet boat, and that's a lot of weight in the boat, so getting back over the bar in a big sea with big-pressure waves and a flood tide from rain was not necessarily safe; we were safer sitting out at sea," Mr Murphy said.
"But one of the guys from Marine Rescue had some heart issues.
"Eventually, we decided to beach the boat as the safest option to get our patients to good medical services, so we made a call to come into Shelly Beach."
"In relation to decision making and collaborative discussion about risk, it was really good because we made some really smart calls about what to do at different stages through the event."
Mr Murphy said the Group Bravery Citation was "fantastic recognition" for the jet boat crew.