UPDATE 9.25am: Jessie Walker, the 17-year-old boy air-lifted to hospital after spending 15 hours lost at sea, remains in a serious but stable condition in Mackay Base Hospital.

Mr Walker was winched aboard the RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter yesterday after three fishermen were found clinging to a life-jacket and fuel can about 40km east of Mackay.


6.00am: It was the fishing trip no mother ever wants to hear about.

When Sonia Ball heard the boat her son and two others were fishing in had overturned in water off Prudhoe Island, she feared the worst.

"It was pretty emotional," Ms Ball said.

"I didn't see him until we got to the hospital and I just hugged him and said I thought I'd lost you and he said I thought I'd lost you too."

Along with 17-year-old Jessie Walker and 39-year-old Jeno Green, 28-year-old Max Ball spent an incredible 15 hours clinging to a single lifejacket in shark infested waters off the coast of Mackay.

They were on an overnight fishing trip in a group of six.

The group left in two separate boats on Sunday evening, however, about three-quarters of the way to the island the crews lost sight of each other.

The RACQ-CQ Rescue Helicopter located the three men about 2pm yesterday and winched Jessie, who was suffering severe hypothermia, to safety.

Yesterday evening, Jessie was in an induced coma at Mackay Base Hospital.

The other two were taken to shore in the Mackay Volunteer Marine Rescue boat.

Ms Ball said Jeno and Max had kept Jessie afloat after the young man's condition deteriorated on daybreak.

"It was a very long night and (Jessie) started... losing strength, getting a bit of delirium, drifting in and out.

"So Max has pretty much held him up, and put him on the lifejacket and a fuel tank they had floating in the water.

"Between Jeno and Max they kept him alive."

Despite his ordeal, Ms Ball said Max had already told her he was keen to get back out on the water.

"He's definitely in a very good mood," Ms Ball said.

"He's cold, he's sunburnt, dehydrated, he's never had to paddle for 15 hours before but apart from that he appears to be pretty good.

"He's even keen to go fishing again even though his mother has banned him for life."

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