‘They were absolutely freezing ... they were blue’
IT WAS John's 11-year-old son, Cameron, who spotted the distressed trio clinging to their overturned boat and stranded in freezing cold water under the Missingham Bridge in Ballina on Thursday afternoon.
"He was the one that spotted them. He said, 'they're over there waving, Dad'," he said.
"They were upside down and they were hanging on. They were freezing when we got there. Absolutely freezing.
"They were blue, they weren't grey, they were blue, so they had been in there a little while.
"It was very cold. I would have hated to be in the water. I wouldn't have swapped them spots for a million dollars.
"I just did what any other person would have done, I'm sure.
"Hopefully if I was in that position someone would do it for me."
The trio who had to be rescued were in 3.5m aluminium punt boat in the mouth of the Richmond River when they were hit side-on by a freak wave just before 2pm.
As a result, the occupants - a 45-year-old Newcastle man, a 13-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy - were left clinging to the side of the boat in the cold water.
John said the incident highlighted the importance of wearing a lifejacket.
"It just reinforces how important life jackets are, because none of them were wearing them," he said.
"Their life jackets were actually floating down the river."
The father and son team from Kyogle had been out fishing in a 5.3m half cabin boat as part of the Evans Head Fishing Classic.
"We caught eight things that day," he said. "Five fish and three people."
"He (Cameron) hasn't stopped talking about it, so he's pretty happy to be involved."