77yo man drowns near Forster

A BYSTANDER, who saw a 77-year-old angler swept off his boat, tried to throw him a life jacket before he drowned in rough 2.5 metre seas near Forster yesterday.

Emergency services were called to the breakwall at Tuncurry Beach, about 7am, after witnesses saw a wave swamp the man’s boat.

Forster police inspector Andy Clarke said the veteran angler, with 30 years experience, was conscious after he fell in the water.

“A bystander actually tried to get a lifejacket that had washed off his boat to him, because he was actually seen in the water yelling out for help,” Inspector Clarke said.

But the elderly man disappeared and his body resurfaced about 20 minutes later with a visible injury to his head.

“The boat he was using (a 4-metre runabout) was obviously fairly new and well-equipped, but it would appear that he wasn’t wearing a life jacket,” he said.

The drowning has highlighted the importance of the NSW Maritime Authority’s new boating safety campaign.

Locally, Coffs Harbour Marine Rescue has urged more local skippers to log details of their trips for safety’s sake.

“We believe that less than half the number of boats that set out from Coffs Harbour each day actually radio in,” Marine Rescue’s Bill McCarron said.

“The first time you hear from a lot of recreational boaties is when they get into trouble, radioing in to report a mechanical breakdown, and to request a tow.”

Skippers should also check live ocean conditions using online NSW Maritime web cameras before planning their trips.

A free SMS weather warning service also exists and is available via the government website.



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