SOS: A fishing boat ran aground at Dr May's Island, Elliott Heads at the weekend.
SOS: A fishing boat ran aground at Dr May's Island, Elliott Heads at the weekend. Contributed

Police officer swims 50m to rescue stranded boaties

UPDATE: A BUNDABERG police officer has braved treacherous conditions, swimming 50 metres to rescue two men from a boat crash at Elliott Heads.

And he wasn't alone in the marine incident, with a number of emergency services personnel working together to rescue the Canoona men.

Senior constable Danielle Loftus said about 7.30pm on Saturday, police were alerted to a boat crash at the Elliott River mouth where a 72-year-old and a 29-year-old were later rescued.

Both men were in a 28-foot Hartley design plywood vessel heading to Yeppoon from Burrum Heads.  

"The rough conditions led to the vessel running aground on rocks at the Elliott River entrance at Dr May's Island and was taking water," Snr Const Loftus said.

"At around 8.10pm it appeared the vessel had a crack in the hull and approximately one foot of water was inside, with the water level rising."

"At 9pm water was approximately three foot deep in hull. At 10.20pm the flooding tide was 2.86 metres high."

Sen Const Loftus said the proximity to treacherous rocks restricted Volunteer Marine Rescue attending and the State Emergency Service flood boat from Elliott Heads was put to use.

"Police were able to travel with the SES crew to the scene, however due to the rough sea conditions, the SES boat was unable to be placed near the stranded vessel," she said.

"As a result the SES vessel propeller was severely damaged by rocks and was swamped by waves."


SELFLESS ACT: Detective Sergeant Andrew Self.
SELFLESS ACT: Detective Sergeant Andrew Self. Eliza Goetze

Sen Const Loftus said, determined to fulfil his duty to protect and help those in need of assistance, Detective Sergeant Andrew Self bravely swam out approximately 50 metres from the SES boat to the stranded vessel and rescued both males.

"The 72-year-old man was extremely frail, without any strength or use of his legs and was able to be placed safely on the SES boat, with the 29-year-old able to climb in," she said.

"Queensland Ambulance Service were in attendance at Riverview boat ramp to treat both males for minor injuries, shock and hypothermia."

A number of organisations involved in the marine incident included the Queensland Police Service, Queensland Ambulance Service, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Maritime Safety Queensland, Rescue Coordination Centre Canberra and Volunteer Marine Rescue.

Central Region Assistant Commissioner Alistair Dawson expressed his appreciation to all members, both police and volunteers who took part in this rescue.

"Rescues can be complicated on a good day and I would like to applaud and acknowledge the tenacity, bravery and courage in undertaking this particular rescue and for the saving of life," Assistant Commissioner Dawson said.


EARLIER: A FISHING boat that ran into rocks at Elliott Heads on Saturday night missed the mouth of the river by about 50 metres.

The grounding at Dr May's Island left the 10 metre vessel, Runaway, with major damage including a large hole to the fibreglass hull.

No fuel or oil has entered the water from the vessel.

Andy Carr said he was swimming at the river with his dog yesterday when he came across the boat.

"We came to a little dinghy, it was full of water and there was a rope hanging off with no anchor," he said.

"We got over to the boat and checked it out and there was a big rock through the hull and down near the shaft to the prop, it was a bit broken

"I checked inside and yelled out, there was no one in it."


It is believed the boat was trying to navigate the mouth of the river, missing the narrow opening and running aground on rocks on Dr May's Island.

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