Emergency crews load the injured man on to an ambulance at the Coffs Harbour boat ramp.
Emergency crews load the injured man on to an ambulance at the Coffs Harbour boat ramp.

Diver dashed against rocks

By Craig McTear

A contract diver was recovering in hospital yesterday after a bizarre mishap at the Coffs Harbour boat ramp.

The man, in his mid-30s, was helping with repairs to the groyne just before 11.30am and was injured when a five-tonne sand-filled geotextile fibre bag was being positioned.

Acting Sergeant Craig Enchelmaier said a large wave washed the man underneath the bag as a crane was slowly lowering it into place.

He said that fortunately for the man, the crane had the bulk of the bag's weight. He sustained most of his injuries when he was smashed against rocks.

"It was a case of sheer bad luck," Sgt Enchelmaier said.

"There is no indication of negligence or failure of any of the equipment used in the operation."

Ambulance officers took the man to Coffs Harbour Health Campus where his condition was listed as stable late yesterday. He was also awaiting the results of body scans.

The man was one of three divers in the water at the time of the incident.

They are employed by Ballina-based Gilbert Diving, contracted to Coffs Harbour City Council to undertake repairs to the groyne in the wake of recent vandalism.

According to the council, that vandalism contributed to the filling-in of the boat ramp with gravel and sand.

The council's director of city services, Steve Sawtell, declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding the accident, saying he did not want to pre-empt WorkCover's findings.

"WorkCover is now investigating the incident and is interviewing all people on site," Mr Sawtell said.



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